El Drugstore - Plague Ship

El Drugstore Plague Ship cover
El Drugstore
Plague Ship
Nefarious Industries
El Drugstore is a trio from New Jersey who specializes in instrumental fusion of progressive metal, experimental rock, sludge metal and noise rock. They introduced themselves (and made waves) in 2008 with the release of the split EP with A Fucking Elephant. Now, on the last day of 2013, they release their debut full length album entitled “Plague Ship”.
The moment you press play and Tell Them I Said Something hits you with its sweet, yet stern raw power, you know you are in for something extraordinary. After the band has got your attention, they bring in the big guns. Hipster Tits is without a doubt the stand out track in “Plague Ship”. Always changing but with an interesting and complicated, but at the same time easy to digest, main theme as its core. This track combines the best elements of the work of bands like Pelican, Godspeed You Black Emperor and even Mogwai, with a sludge twist. Consequently, it raises the bar quite high; unfortunately the rest of the recording does not live up to it.
What I mean is that while there is nothing wrong with the rest of the album, it does get a little tiring from time to time. To be fair, no one can argue that it’s a lot more difficult to keep the listener’s attention without the use of vocals. But that’s not the problem with “Plague Ship”. The press release that came with the album stated that the band has been working on it for the last three years. It seems to me that the band has been tweaking every track so much that they overloaded them. I’m not blaming them for trying too hard, of course; I’m just saying that sometimes less is more. If there's one thing of which you could accuse El Drugstore, it would be the crime of overplaying their instruments. There’s a fine line when progressive metal becomes showing off, or when complicated musical compositions become a little to compact, or when noise rock becomes just plain noise. Even though El Drugstore never cross those lines, they do flirt with them in songs like Fascinating Underpants, Tokyo Assault and Pandemonium in the Bronx. However, there are parts where they get it just right like the pre-mentioned Hipster Tits and The Natives Are Getting Useless.
With that said though, “Plague Ship” is an honest and noteworthy attempt that deserves attention. The only drawback is that if you listen to the whole thing straight-through you run the risk of ending up with a headache. I would advise everyone who samples it against using headphones.