Review Summary: Industrial sledgehammer manufacturing
I was disgruntled when I realized that the easiest way to situate Baptists’ music was to draw lazy comparisons towards Converge. Doing so would instantly subordinate Baptists, mark them as a mere archetype of “pummelling hardcore”. I don’t wish to dismiss Baptists’ lamentations on the devaluing of truth and their sense of injustice (informed by frontman Andrew Drury’s experiences in social work). I also don’t wish to deny the potency of Nick Yacyshyn’s agile drumming -- there’s a curiously noble restraint with which it delivers punches, a nuance that is mostly absent from Beacon of Faith
as a whole. The reply to that might be “But there is an appropriate amount of nuance! Not every song follows the same fast-paced formula, the slow, sludgy tracks are satisfyingly brooding.” But I can’t bring myself to think that Beacon of Faith
has enough nuance, or unpredictability, or even enough progression from Bloodmines
to convince me that Baptists are a distinct entity, rather than an archetype.
Baptists play their two modes well: the first, a blistering fury, grounded in the pain of a caged man thrashing against the bars -- not with escape in mind, but the drive to save a stranger being tortured in front of his eyes (with whatever violence that may entail). The second turns that fury inward, directs it toward the self; resignation seeps through after the implosion. But having only two modes leads to songs, of the same grouping, battling it out for recognition in my memory -- for the first one, the title track and “Vicarious Trauma” won out on account of their sheer viciousness. This was a problem that also plagued Baptists’ last album, Bloodmines
; interestingly, Beacon of Faith
even shares Bloodmines
’ placement of the distinctively slower tracks at around the 1/3 and 3/4 marks of the record.
This leads me to the point about unpredictability, or lack thereof. Here I will make a more specific comparison to Converge in order to outline what Beacon of Faith
lacks: while Converge never seemed to tread the same path twice, nor walked two paths the same way, Beacon of Faith
seems content to dig into the same ground for much of a song. (“Indigo Child” is an exception, if only because it’s unique for employing both modes within the same song.) This straightforward style was likely designed to repeatedly beat one down into submission, but here there’s a law of diminishing effects when it comes to repetition. If individual songs were made redundant, individual passages are also subject to the same criticism.
In the end I’m left feeling a bit guilty because Beacon of Faith
is so sincere in its convictions. The mixture of blunt condemnations and abstract musings, delivered by Andrew Drury’s snarl, paints a sympathetic picture of anger, indeed rage, as a righteous force. It’s a message that I’m receptive to, at least during the first few times that it’s shouted at me. But when Beacon of Faith
eventually tries to knock down my door to deliver its message, I’m only wishing that the door holds up.