REVIEW: Pains – Drown the Earth [EP/2016]


Artist: Pains 

Album: Drown the Earth – EP


You don’t need to be an environmentalist to know that there are no limits to the forces and events conspiring to bring Mother Nature to her knees. There is famine, flood, natural disasters induced by global warming—our own poisons seeping into the planet’s crust—the list goes on. Our planet is intoxicated and decaying, being eaten alive by what many would call its greatest product and most advanced offspring—us. And by the time noisy hardcore assailants in Pains are done with you, you will know exactly what that slow, insidious, unstoppable rot is like. With their debut EP, Drown the Earth, Pains waste no time in drowning the listener with dissonant, rambunctious aggression that infuses raw, bare-knuckle thrash and hardcore with the curious and careful attention to detail found in many metal acts. The result is a meticulously crafted display of sonic murder—assault on the listener more pure and lethal  than distilled and fractionated poison; the result is Drown the Earth.

Drown the Earth is the sort of panic-driven, frantic and frenzied display of hectic hardcore that leaves the listener flayed before the first track has even run its course. From the first dissonant ring of “Man of Misery,” the band are nothing but pure energy thrown into a blender with the listener’s darkest, deepest fears and churned to a lurid, toxic pulp. Drums and sharp cymbals crash down around the listener like metric tons of broken glass being shot out of an aircraft carrier’s long guns. The pulsing, pounding patterns on “Good Riddance” drive the rambling, low bass into the listener’s head like a hammer pounding on nails, bleeding out the listener’s sanity. This becomes especially true during the EP’s most straightforward—and intense—track, “Bite the Spine,” where Pains’ convoluted riffs become simpler and more brazen in their chug-driven assault. Elsewhere—like the fretwork abundant on “Man of Misery” and “Biblical Violence”–Pains’ guitars are loud, raunchy and ruthless. Riffs weave in and out of beefy, thick bass grooves and boisterous drumming like a quilt knit from living snakes; toxic, trembling and terrifying. “Man of Misery” does an excellent job of truly capturing the feeling of anxiety and panic, sending the listener’s heart racing into the triple-digit miles-per-hour range without even giving the listener fair warning—but then again, fair warning is far from what this Illinois aggressors are about.

To speak of shrill, distilled sonic despair is to speak of the abrasive, bitter and aggressive vocal stylings that cut the listener’s ears—and their entire heads, by virtue—in half. “Man of Misery” sees the vocals embodying and relaying desperation just as brilliantly as the instrumentation, striking panic into the listener like a sledgehammer swinging on tack nails. Meanwhile, “Bite the Spine” is nothing but unfiltered fury in its most catchy and creative form. The droning, dissonant ending is amplified by the contagious, cranially invasive lyrics that find their way into the meat of the listener’s brain and stuck there for hours, days or weeks before being dislodged; likely by the brays and barks of “Biblical Violence.” Drown the Earth‘s vocal aspect plays to the chaos and frenzy of the instrumentation without trying to keep up with every mesmerizing twist and turn—because on tracks like “Man of Misery,” that would be difficult, bordering on impossible. Instead, the vocals capture the mood of every song and condense it into catchy lines and crushing, brutalizingly honest lyrics that waste no time in being floral or superfluous.

Like fair warning, floral and superfluous are two more words that have absolutely no place being uttered to describe Drown the Earth. Short, sharp and straight to the point, Pains are as lethal as congenital heart failure and as sudden as a stroke. The bands debut EP is violent and chaotic—a pissed off maelstrom of murderous heaviness and pure punishment—finding a middle-ground between the powerviolence antics of bands like Nails and the contemporary takes on heavy-handed hardcore from trailblazers like Left Behind. Even considering the band’s rebirth from the ashes of Kingmaker, Pains are still difficult to describe without tripping on one’s own words. Instead, Drown the Earth is a sound the listener has to hear and digest for themselves—a pain that truly needs to be felt to be understood.



For Fans Of: Ancress, Skincarver, Left Behind, Nails

By: Connor Welsh