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The Drowns – Under Tension
Under Tension - Pirates Press Records
The Drowns is hands down one of the most exciting and relevant bands on Pirates Press Records today. The Seattle and Los Angeles based band features a tried and tested pedigree, composed of members of Success, Shell Corporation, Time Again, and Madcap that come together for the simple love of gruff old school punk. The band straddles the line between gruff orgcore classics like Hot Water Music and Street Dogs, and melodic Oi! staples like The Business and Booze and Glory. Back a short year and a half after their stellar full length, View From The Bottom, The Drowns define their next installment with even more fervor and life.
Under Tension is a tight and energizing offering right from the get go. An uninhibited throaty call shatters the silence in the initial moments of “Black Lungs,” followed quickly with a backdrop of steady repetitive riffs that lead The Drowns into all means of rock n’ roll rich guitar solos and gang vocals. It’s easy to imagine a fist pumping crowd totally in sync with the undeniable rhythm and pulsing beat emanating from these notes. Not to be outdone, “Them Rats” follows with a bouncy, bass heavy foundation that ups the stakes and corresponding chorus to singable proportions. With lyrics that find fuel in uniting society’s lost and forgotten, the band sings of uprising in gravelly melody, proclaiming “you’re calling them rats so the rats are coming, the rats are coming for you!” These sentiments draw The Drowns’ various topics of resistance together like in “Wolves on the Throne,” expressed in statements like, “There are no saviours, we’ll have to make our own.”
One of the elements that continues to serve The Drowns well is their rotation through vocalists each with their own unique style. The primary vocals are gruff and borderline throaty while maintaining a sense of melody that takes its lead from the instrumentation, whereas the secondary vocals could be described as softer and less abrasive. In songs like “Cue the Violins” and “Demons” these vocals take a step back from the fray without compromising any of the aforementioned energy. The band toys with these vocal stylings in much the same way that Chuck Ragan dominates Hot Water Music with Chris Wollard lending himself to the mic about a quarter of the time. Such flexibility bodes well for the band’s longevity and future creative process.
When the dust settles, Under Tension leaves listeners feeling satisfied and fulfilled. There’s a richness and warmth that defines The Drowns as streetwise and authentic in their vision, celebrating the drive of those balancing on society’s lower rungs. Once again, the band’s chemistry leads to a natural sense of pacing that reels in listeners and invites them to join in solidarity for track after track of fist raising working class anthems. Under Tension once again positions The Drowns as one of Pirates Press Records’ flagship artists.