To lead singer Patrick Kindlon, Drug Church is an attempt to alienate people. He calls alienation a “straight up personality defect, in a very defined way”. In some ways, the very existence of Drug Church is alienating to Kindlon himself. Vocalist of Albany post-hardcore collective Self Defense Family, formerly End of a Year, Kindlon spent years working to establish the group with a seemingly endless list of contributors. However, in a mere few years, Drug Church has implanted itself as the perplexingly aggressive post-hardcore band they aspire to be. On their second EP Swell, Drug Church proves to listeners just how enigmatic they can be, but the results aren’t anything to brush aside.
Rather than create loud and cathartic hardcore anthems, Drug Church pays careful attention to dynamics and layering. With the help of J. Robbins, Swell moves likes waves, with its energy driving back and forth. Kindlon’s soft spoken questions turns to intense refrains on “But Does It Work?”, and those same yells, coupled with the guitars and drums shifting between loud and soft with ease, make “Work-Shy” the pulsating attack that it is. The EP does not drive us with continuous punishment, rather the highs and lows build a sense of brooding intensity and aggression, which, when coupled with dynamic ability of the group itself, it quite effective.
With these five tracks, Drug Church manages to heed influence from alternative and post-hardcore alike. While their hardcore chops are on full display in the yell-driven energy of “Mall SWAT” and its sweeping guitar coda, the EP’s last two tracks show a different side to Drug Church. “Ghost Dad” and “Zero Zero” tread the line of angry alternative tracks. They are less about an onslaught of visceral guitar and percussion, and their aggressive stems more from Kindlon’s raw tenacity. “Zero Zero” finishes off the EP with powerful force, as their final notes come from the driving exertion of energy that the swelling guitars and throaty yells bring.
For its members, Drug Church is a bit of an anomaly. Out of all of their previous projects, Drug Church was the one that quickly found its niche. Rather than continue to feed an audience of blind followers, the band aims to keeps their fans off guard, infusing discomfort and idiosyncrasy into their music as a means of necessity, a way of defining the group. On Swell, Drug Church manages to create tension and anxiety through caution. Its building crashes and withdrawn moments can work in sequence in punishing ways. Kindlon’s gruff vocals provide the perfect drive to the claustrophobic music, and Drug Church wouldn’t want it any other way.