When I saw Bass Drum of Death play earlier this year, I knew that its new record, “Rip This,” would be one that I would have to listen to. The band’s show was wildly energetic and fun, and the few songs they played from the album before its release were fantastic. My only concern was that the new record would not be able to capture the energy the new songs had live, but upon my first listen of “Rip This” I knew that was not the case.
Throughout “Rip This,” the Oxford, Mississippi-based band keeps things on the punk side of garage rock. All of the songs are heavy, yet insanely catchy. This album features some of the band’s strongest melodies and leanest songwriting.
While there is not a song on the album that is as ear-catching as “Crawling After You,” the band’s breakout single from 2013’s self-titled record, all of the material on “Rip This” is well crafted and well produced.
“For Blood” is the obvious single from the record. The song features the best guitar riff on the album, and the melodies that guitarist and singer John Bennett use will be stuck in your brain for days. The song demands to be played in skateboarding videos and on drunken nights out.
Album-opener “Electric” features some great, proto-punk-esque riffing and more fantastic melodies from John Barrett. As he sings, “I want you to die” over the energetic chorus, I feel compelled to stop what I am doing and start pogoing around the room.
The following song, “Left for Dead” features more of the same. The song is infinitely fun, with great guitar riffs and more fantastic vocal melodies. Barrett has been the one constant member throughout the band’s life, but on this record drummer Len Clark, former drummer of Mississippi Indie Rock legends Colour Revolt, joins him. Clark’s drumming on the record is straight forward and to the point, like most of the songs, but it all works.
Barrett, however, is the clear star of the record. He manages to craft powerful and hard-hitting guitar riffs on every song, and couples them with infectious vocal melodies.
The duo’s hard work in songcraft is complemented by the production work of the record. Usually I am not a stickler for production quality, but the work Jacob Portrait did on the record needs to be praised. The production sounds huge, with the band sounding just as fuzzy and aggressive as they did live, but while also maintaining pristine audio quality.
If there are any faults in this record, it is the usual garage rock fault. While Bass Drum of Death does a phenomenal job of managing to make every song interesting, over the course of the album things still end up sounding a little repetitive. This is mostly the case with “Lose My Mind” which does little to stand out from the other songs.
Another issue I have is that the album’s closing song, “Route 69 (Yeah),” feels a little self-indulgent and bloated, as it sports the most layered instrumentation of the record.
Despite these issues, “Rip This” is easily the best garage rock record I’ve heard this year. The infectiously catchy and energetic songs on this record should keep anyone listening. The album feels like a message to mainstream listeners, and that message is that Bass Drum of Death is truly out for blood.
This is an article of opinion written by Printz Reporter Bradley Presson, Bradley.Presson@eagles.usm.edu.