Review Summary: After this latest bout with D.R.U.G.S., it's clear that Craig Owens needs to be checked into rehab....
Craig Owens has more in common with the infamous hydra from Greek myth than one would think. Like said beast, you cut off one head and even more grow in its place, which is precisely the summation of the past several years of the controversial vocalist’s career. With each failed endeavor, Owens picks up even more short-term outfits and super groups. Well add another notch to the belt, and make it a big one, for Owens' has seriously outdone himself this time.
D.R.U.G.S. (Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows), and their debut self-titled, is an utter failure in every sense of the word. Consisting of members of Story of the Year, From First to Last, and Matchbook Romance, D.R.U.G.S. is a post-hardcore super-group of sorts, or more fittingly, a group of “rag-tags” and “misfits.” Coming from such a diverse background, it’s difficult to imagine the band believing that their sounds would make a coherent product, let alone anything musically relevant. But the issue here isn’t that D.R.U.G.S.
is simply bad or unpalatable, it’s that so little thought and care went into its creation, that it merely feels like a regurgitation of the past decade of “the scene.”
Oh yes “the scene,” that little niche so deftly alluded to in every mentioning of the “Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen” conglomerate from whence D.R.U.G.S. draws much of their inspiration. This would be much more excusable if the album weren’t so staggeringly aimless, or devoid of any sort of goal. Sparks of creativity and bouts of sheer inspiration are in thin supply on D.R.U.G.S.
, with simple, unadulterated “grifting” strewn everywhere. Dual-layered screaming/singing, unnecessary breakdowns, and whiny passages are prevalent, all tied together in short, digestible, saccharine-coated tracks.
The biggest shock of the album comes in the form of Craig Owens. Owens, a man as loathed as he is loved, is actually the strongest member of the quintet. It’s hard to deny that he’s improved his vocals, with the overall pitch being brought down a few notches, allowing for a smoother, less piercing tone. He’s discovered when and when not to strain his voice, and honestly, he sounds pretty decent for much of the album. But then there is this nagging part of me, this part that isn’t so sure he’s improved at all, but rather, merely seems better in comparison to the rest of the band. It’s a believable assumption, for the other musicians simply do not pull their weight, which is ultimately the Achilles heel of D.R.U.G.S. Bland drumming and guitar passages litter each song on the record, making for an all around unimpressive piece of music.
Yet all of this--the stagnant sound and weak band members--would bearable if D.R.U.G.S.
weren’t so damn boring. Yes there’s weaknesses everywhere, and at times the band just sounds utterly caustic, but none of that really outweighs how dull the album truly is. There’s a decent selection of tracks, with more variety than one would think, which pretty much amounts to the album’s only saving grace. From the poppy, guitar driven “The Only Thing You Talk About,” to the heavier, metal-core inspired “My Swagger Has A First Name,” no one song sounds exactly the same. That being said, the tacky electronics and questionable dance beats sprinkled around don’t do the album any favors. It’s a mixed bag in that respect, with the band stabbing in the dark as to what might sound good, and where to put it. Needless to say, it didn’t work too well for them, with D.R.U.G.S.
feeling stylistically choppy and disorganized.
Craig, baby, I supported you when others lambasted you. Hell, I’ve even found your girlish charm to be sort of endearing, even at the darkest and most dismal points of your career. However, time has shown the cracks in your character, and the fractured and questionable decisions you’ve made have gotten me thinking that maybe there is no hope for your wayward self. Mr. Owens, D.R.U.G.S.
is your rock bottom. It is the culmination of everything that has been wrong with the past several years of your musical life, and above all else, it is a vapid, inexcusable album.