In the deluge of already-released great grind (Total Fucking Destruction, Rotten Sound, and more) and great grind to come (Wormrot, Napalm Death, come oooooooon Pig Destroyer), 2011 is shaping up to be a hell of a year for it. So it makes sense for Drugs of Faith to drop their debut full length — Corroded — into our laps right around now and to have it be a bruiser and a half. A genre-scorching nail bomb, it ably handles punky speed, avant-garde guitar chords, and abrasive slow parts with equal aplomb. In fact, the only thing keeping it from being a truly great grind album is that I’m not really sure it’s a grind album.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: there are fast parts all over the place. But where the record really succeeds is in mid-paced and slow parts, brimming with (admittedly sour) personality. I’ve never been a fan of the _______ ’n’ roll tag when it comes to metal (as in black ’n’ roll, death ‘n’ roll, and, in this case, grind ‘n’ roll), seeing as metal is a subset of rock ‘n’ roll to begin with, so the term is redundant (not to mention that it grants bands that know how to write a halfway memorable riff their own genre as opposed to holding the rest of the original genre to that standard). But here, I suppose it’s accurate: Drugs of Faith have the soul of a grind band, but the guts of a bunch of other bands. In the end, though, their intent is confrontational, to create an ambiance of unease. It’s only 27 minutes, but like most bands that know how to do this, they manage to pack a whole fucking lot in there.

Of course, as if to make me look like an asshole for writing the previous paragraph, Corroded starts out with “Grayed Out,” a noisy grind tune full of hairpin turns and varying degrees of blastbeats. Over it all is Richard Johnson’s direct bellow, wonderfully decipherable and pissed. But after “Foreign Climates” and “Race to the End,” the album settles into a (often times, literal) groove, unafraid to slow down and focus on the sick little moments along the way. One of the most remarkable things about Drugs of Faith is how good of a BAND they sound like on Corroded: the drums have a jazzy limberness, and bassist Taryn Wilkinson holds down the fort with Jesus Lizard-grade sturdy basslines (Kevin Bernsten’s production should get a nod, too, seeing as her low-end work is constantly audible, often times working as a stable base to Johnson’s anarchic guitar violence), all working in seemingly effortless tandem. They sound fluid and well-versed.

The best is saved for last, though, with “Age of Reason,” one of those great our-band-in-a-nutshell songs. It’s got arty chords over blastbeats, crust punk d-beats, and an outro that sounds like a sludgy metallic hardcore breakdown with a head injury. It’s at once invigorating, puckish, and sickly. So it’s a perfect closer to Corroded, a brash statement of disgust hurled at your feet to do with as you please. It took them 8 or 9 years to come up with this. Clearly, it was worth the wait.

(4 out of 5 horns)


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