(In this post NCS contributor Austin Weber reviews the debut album by a New Jersey band named El Drugstore.)
After Kevin Conway departed East Of The Wall last year, it didn’t take him long to release something new, through a project called El Drugstore and their debut album Plague Ship. Rounding out El Drugstore’s line-up is current East Of The Wall drummer Seth Rheam, and bassist Roland Alvarado. While sonic comparisons to East Of The Wall could be made, compositionally El Drugstore is playing an entirely different game. In fact, the biggest similarity to East Of The Wall actually has nothing to do with the music, but the song titles, which are oddly funny and reminiscent of the song titles way back on East Of The Wall’s first full-length, Farmer’s Almanac.
El Drugstore often reminds me of the mind-numbing dexterity and style of fellow instrumental metallers Electro Quarterstaff, both structurally and riff/drum-wise, especially during “Wheel Of Sadness” and “The Natives Are Getting Useless”, and at certain parts of other songs. The heart of the rest of their identity resides somewhere between Botch, Keelhaul, and Dysrhythmia.
A recurring thread among the songs on Plague Ship is a dynamic found in expelling noodly rhythms that build up, while frequent moments of crushing heaviness appear in between the main building rhythm. This tactic gives the band’s music an interesting flow and direction, one that defines Plague Ship as the work of sonic terrorists, unwilling to follow convention and easy song structures.
The time Kevin and Seth spent together in East Of The Wall shows, as their interplay on Plague Ship is phenomenal, with each bouncing off and complementing the other while bassist Roland slinks in and out of any available space not claimed by the other two.
El Drugstore is such a good band name that it’s practically reason enough by itself to check this out. But beyond their bitching name, the music is really fantastic and spastic while always an enjoyable ride no matter the multiple directions into which each song diverges. Hopefully, this isn’t a one-off project because El Drugstore is onto something really special on Plague Ship. A link to a full-album stream and a link to buy a digital copy follow below.