It’s weird, the world of Blood & Milk that the brothers Loveless have created since their humble beginnings. Dealing with ASBOs in the fair hamlet of Castleton, a mobbing crowd in the now defunct Old Number 7 and then opening to Retribution Gospel Choir. Jump forward to some politician namedropping them and it all got a wee weird.
But never too weird for them.
In their self-titled début, Drenge‘s sound is perfectly captured in 12 songs, most of them fast paced, a couple a little less so. ‘People in love make me feel yuck’ pretty much sums both a response to the overtly sentimental songs that seem to seethe radio and the entire sound found in Drenge: distorted guitars and a mean drum beat, bred from a jazz and blues upbringing.
But don’t expect smug technical displays from the duo, as the name of the game is to deliver curt songs. ‘I want to break you in half’ is brutal and unrelenting, both in message and delivery. This transpires through ‘Bloodsports’, the punk one and the utterly enjoyable ‘Backwaters’ (which once bore the name ‘Blood & Milk’, the name of the zine both used to make.) ‘Backwaters’ is also the chance for drummer Rory Loveless to shine through, although he has a lot of fun in ‘Gun Crazy’.
Have I mentioned it’s a very fierce album? ‘Nothing’ doesn’t bother asking for permission to come into your house, it’s already in your living room, smoking your Montecristo habanos and drinking that Vin du Rosier you were saving for a special occasion. ‘Face like a skull’ has the energy of the best post hardcore bands of yore, like Shiner, Chavez or Frodus, but with a more succinct guitar approach. Still as powerful.
Now, this isn’t a mindless race through punk and grunge hinterlands. There is a very special moment in this album and it’s by the end. It’s surrounded by the feedback heavy ‘Bye Bye Bao Bao’ and the satisfying (and funny) ‘Fuckabout’. The moment I’m talking about is the fantastic ‘Let’s pretend’. 8 minutes of raw emotions that mix a little bit of grunge, a little bit of prog, a dash of psychedelia and a lot of atmosphere. It breezes through and the quiet moments just get you ready for a moment where Eoin and Rory try to outdo each other in an increasingly faster manner. It leads to an explosive ending and it’s the crown jewel of this collection.
2013 has been so far a great year for loud, relentless bands to make a mark. Speedy Ortiz, Ovlov, The Suicide Dolls, Two Inch Astronaut, all taking a queue from grunge’s punk roots while still imprinting their own signature sound all over. Drenge are more than capable to join this wave and make a name for themselves. By Jove, is this album is any indication, they are doing it quite well.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López