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Man oh man, have I been impatiently waiting for this one for a long time now or what?
FINALLY following up their decent ‘No Comment‘ EP (2015) and with newest band member, Sam Yates now on board, Melbourne’s weirdest purveyors of colourful imagery and face-paint – Dregg – will release their essentially self-titled EP come next week (that’s Friday, October 6th for those of you playing along at home). Moulding underground hardcore aggression, tight and mighty fine bouncy nu-metal grooves, a 90’s metal riff-heavy trigger finger primed and ready, and with Christopher Mackertich’s vitriolic screams and rap/hip-hop-like vocal phrasing, Dregg have a slightly flawed but pretty solid new effort on their collective, grimy hands.
The short, fast and blood-pumping punch of ‘Ridiculous‘ and the lamentation of our society’s ever-growing vapidity via galloping hardcore that is ‘Exploring The Universe Through The Kardashians‘ jump-start your ears upon first falling down the hole of Dregg’s hardcore acid trip. The EP’s third song, ‘General Butt Naked‘, is a vicious, uncompromising heavy war cry for the depressed, disenfranchised, and downtrodden youth that may be listening. And at this point of the EP, things are smoothly firing on all cylinders as the quintet remains thoroughly consistent in terms of pace, message, tone, sense of purpose and their angry musical delivery. But that’s when the first real hiccup occurs.
The mid-EP interlude of ”Ill Mannered‘ – made up of seemingly improvised drum patterns, motherfucking Skeletor samples, synth basses, and occasional piano licks – is a downright odd piece and one that I won’t be coming back to anytime soon. Considering that the song is only 75 seconds long, and also considering that Dregg have had no problem in the past with short songs (‘Get Owt‘, ‘Riddle Me This‘), another quick and easy hardcore morsel would have gone down much better. Of course, perhaps that was the band’s thinking when first putting this EP together; to instead create something different than what most have come to expect from them sonically. And if so, that intention was all well and good in theory, and while this track does add some albeit weird musical variety, I just do not feel that the final product was at all necessary. As ‘Ill Mannered‘ just feels like a mere after-thought, and much like Belle Haven’s ‘Hollywood‘, that shit won’t make it anywhere near my music library.
Things pick right back up with the ‘fuck you’ attitude of the nu-metal-tinged callout, ‘Offended‘ – a song that I am curious to know the real story behind. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the band have had their fun and are now ready to get back into the good stuff, but alas, no. Because penetrate my salad and call me a food fucker, just as the EP gets back on the rails, Dregg drop yet another strange piece of audio on your lap with ‘Zovic‘. (Which may or may not be named after a Macedonian village). This track is basically a faux, edited phone call with some pitch-shifted vocals and the kind of samples you’d hear in an old, cheesy horror movie that’s trying way too hard to be creepy. Like ‘Ill Mannered‘, it’s not good.
Now, for those unaware, Ocean Grove guitarist Matt Henley also doubles up as a studio member of Dregg. Now, while both of these bands fit within a similar scene – both musically and geographically speaking – I find that OG pulled such interlude ideas off far better on ‘The Rhapsody Tapes‘ because of two reasons: Firstly, their interlude tracks (‘Slow Soap Soak‘ and ‘From Dalight‘, for instance) were actually good songs – both live and on-record – that you could bounce and move along to, and secondly, they just didn’t feel at all like filler; rather, smaller pieces of a larger puzzle. Which really is the case with ‘Ill Mannered‘ and ‘Zovic‘ – they’re just mere filler. If Dregg have some sort of wider vision to be discovered here than I must admit that I’ve missed the memo.
Thankfully, the EP enters its final stretch on a much stronger note with the violent-sounding ‘Narcotic‘, which sees the band’s frontman spitting some real hate (“Mother nature’s a whore/she will fuck you“) and the group hitting a really nice, mid-tempo sweet spot between blistering speed and slow-moving punishment to create a potent hardcore track. After that, the damned good closing song ‘Don’t Go Into The Mangroves‘ is a menacing piece, especially with that intro foreboding guitar melody. It’s also a lyrically eerie cut as well (“So cut your legs off at the crossroads/And don’t go into the mangroves“) and is a musically darker, more chug-heavy finale for Dregg’s sound; one that concludes on a sombre, bluesy guitar fade out to create a real far cry from the sheer rage of how this release began just minutes earlier.
Excluding this EP’s two missteps that I’ve ranted about, and while ‘The Dregg EP‘ is indeed a worthy, solid listen, there just simply aren’t any songs here that rival the group’s two rip-roaring 2016 singles, ‘Sorry Daddy‘ and ‘Weirdo‘. That’s not for a lack of trying, though, and while this is no bad EP – not at all – I know that Dregg has achieved better. And whenever (or if) the band has a full-length roll around, hopefully, Dregg will take their blood-stained baseball bat and knock it right out of the park.
While no doubt a good release in its own right, ‘The Dregg EP’ definitely isn’t a “not phased” on the Glenn Romano Meter, but it’s also not quite a “cunts fucked” either (the outcome I was really hoping for, honestly). However, Dregg came fucking close to doing so, and you’d be a fool to not keep an eye on them moving forward.
2. Exploring The Universe Through The Kardashians
3. General Butt Naked
4. Ill Mannered
8. Don’t Go Into The Mangroves (feat. Nick Adams of Justice For The Damned)
‘The Dregg EP’ drops October 6th. Pre-order it here. Or just buy it when it drops next week for an easy $5 – I know I will be.