Walking through the woods on a foggy day in autumn is somewhat uncanny. You feel like walking in a bubble, because you can’t see far. The woods are unusually quiet. The fog swallows light and sound. When my dogs lift their ears because they’ve heard something, or even start growling, I begin to feel uncomfortable.
This feeling, that probably most people would get in the described setting, is exactly what the photograph on the cover of the new Baptists’ album Beacon of Faith plays with and aims at. It features a hooded man standing in foggy woods in autumn or winter, in front of a small fire, an axe or some kind of weapon in one hand. I wouldn’t want to come across him. What’s he doing there? Is he good or ill-natured? Why has he retreated to the woods?
The album’s title is Beacon of Faith, but the fire in the picture is no beacon. It is small and, because of the fog, can probably be seen only from up close. What was the fire built for? Was it to attract people so they could warm themselves, or is that just a pretext to draw them close in order to slay them?
After having listened to the album, I’ll go with the second option. In a loud, angry and aggressive way this band from Vancouver thematizes all that’s wrong with today’s society, from substance abuse to bad mental health and prison-like social strata that are becoming ever more fixed. There are no beacons of faith in today’s society. And if there are, they are small and dubious. What we are offered most of the time is false hope, like the fire in the photograph which is too small to warm anybody.
Beacon of Faith features metallic hardcore infused with noise rock. There is little variation in the sound from track to track, also no big differences to the album’s predecessors, as far as I can tell. However, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, there is a track like Capsule that shows you that there is more to the band and their music. The beginning of Capsule is the first bit of music that stands apart from the rest, because it has a post metal character, maybe even a symphonic one. The same is true for Eulogy Template, the longest track on the album and my personal favourite, and for the last track, Nostrovia, a post-rock instrumental.
The album was recorded with Kurt Ballou from Converge and the production is anything but clean, adding to the old-school feel.
Beacon of Faith is an album for fans of metallic hardcore who don’t favour clean sound or artsy elements. This is down-to-earth extreme music. It could use some complexity or finesse, if you ask me, but then that wouldn’t be in sync with the anti-elitism. Baptists put their music where their mouth is. And that’s OK.