"Oh shit, there's a new D.R.U.G.S. album out today!" was not something I thought I would ever say in 2022, or really ever again in my life. It's not like I never wanted to say those words, but the band vanished just as quick as they appeared. Dropping one album in 2011 and then evaporating into the post-hardcore ether. So when the news broke that Craig Owens was bringing the band back, I was jazzed! I prayed at the alter of vocalists like Craig Owens and Jonny Craig when I was a young teen, so to see a really cool band come back that has one of them in it had me absolutely chuffed.
Now, its been over a decade, so I'm not sure what I expected going into it. Like, if the band just rested on their laurels and re-made the first album, I'd be fucking pissed. Bands need to evolve and change, anyone who says otherwise is a fucking moron. So I didn't want that. But I also didn't want anything that sounded like everything currently popular, because that's also cringe. To me, D.R.U.G.S. always sounded like the odd one out in the scene, and I wanted a modern, more evolved take on THAT sound. To paraphrase Thanos, all things perfectly balanced, y'know?
Well, we got a new lineup and a new album, so let's dive in!
The record opens with the song DESTINY, which was an interesting song to open the album with. While the instrumental itself is fine, it was very underwhelming. After a decade, I wanted something a little more bombastic to open the record. A little more explosive! So while that was just ok, the vocals on the other hand were insane. Craig Owens is a powerhouse, and if anyone forgot just how good he is, this is a lovely reminder of what he is capable of. Especially when he hits that almost harsh vocal in the bridge. The following song, Satellites In Motion, is what I personally think should have opened. An insanely catchy hook, easily my favorite on the record, with an incredible vocal melody. This song has the first albums sensibility, but updated for the modern day. Exactly what I wanted.
Now, the next few songs were kind of let downs to me. GOLD was clearly a song written for the radio, which is fine, you gotta get the songs out there, I get it. But man, this is so...this song just sounds like every other band and it really left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Like burnt coffee. And Brighter Side has a very interesting vibe. Even though it has some really heartfelt lyrics (I built these walls to protect myself/You fell in love, but with somebody else/I am flawed but I'm no fool/Wish I could've seen the truth), it largely sounds like a heavier I The Mighty song, which...oof. Then we have the song Outcasts vs Everyone which was a good lead single, with a cool guest spot from Lil Peep affiliate Brennan Savage, but it really wasn't doing much for me. I don't want to say it was boring, but it was boring.
HOWEVER! everything after that was fucking sick.
Supercalifragilisticexistentialcrisis, which is an incredible song title by the way, is awesome! A no nonsense chugging instrumental that borders on a two-step at times, with a serious bass line that had me moving like it was 2013. It also has a wild vocal performance that had me rewinding parts of the song to listen to again because I almost didn't believe it. Following that is the song The Longest Road, which sports a very minimal instrumental, but has some of the best lyrics that absolutely fit the music, and brings it all together in a very beautiful way.
Next we get a lovely little throwback song in the form of (Are we not drawn onward to) NEW ERA, which is a legit callback to the early to mid 00's style of metalcore and Post Hardcore that made bands like this popular. Its tight, and its a nice reminder of where the band was back then and how far the band has evolved since. And I won't say that What's the code for Heaven's Gate is a bad song, because it isn't, but the only thing that stood out on this otherwise ho hum pop rock ballad is a cool riff change near the end. It really wasn't my cup of tea.
What WAS my cup of tea however, was the song Gravity (My Ever Ghost)! It is everything I wanted. It is angry, it is mean, it is catchy, and it has the most harsh vocals on the album! This song absolutely fucks! Then we get the song Waiting On You, which...hoo boy, is a beast. Consistently heavy, keeping this lovely groove throughout the entire track with some bonkers drum work from Aaron Stechauner. Truly a standout track.
Finishing up the album is the closing track The Arm. Now, if I thought that the album started awkwardly, it ends wonderfully! Has an incredible soaring chorus vocal and a lovely chugging riff. Surprisingly enough, it completely changes in the back half of the track into this very minimal and heartfelt affair with some very hard hitting lyrics (I'd rather leave our love than get a broken heart/I'd rather say goodbye a thousand times/I'd rather fall apart than have to hear you lie/I'd rather turn around and go our separate ways) that really put me in my feelings for a little while.
Despite its very obvious faults and blind spots, this is a serviceable comeback album that I'm glad exists, and I honestly hope they build from this point...and not disappear for a decade again...