Wednesday, March 4, 2015

PRIESTS - Powerfuly Intense and Relevant Punk Rock

PRIESTS are scary.  And I’m not talking about the religious guys in robes.  I’m talking about the firestorm of intensity that is the latest post-hardcore band to come out of the prolific Washington, DC music scene.  Lead by enigmatic front-woman Katie Alice Greer, PRIESTS are exactly what post-hardcore is supposed to sound like, heavy and confrontational without becoming ironic or cliché.  The band, which formed in 2012 and put out two self-released tapes and a 7” on their own Sister Polygon Records, recently released their latest EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power on NJ indie powerhouse Don Giovanni Records.  Indeed all of those subjects are discussed in Greer’s demanding and profound lyrics which capture millennial malaise and coming of age frustrations felt by everyone who was expected to make a life for themselves in the wake of the economic recession.  PRIESTS state, or rather belt matter of factly, the feelings felt by many of the millennial generation and they do it alongside jarring punk riffs and funky interplay that crafts a sound completely unique.  Taylor Mulitz’s bass guitar comes through heavy on all songs and creates a haunting background to the jangly guitar leads brought to the table by guitar guru G.L Jaguar.  Drummer Daniele Daniele keeps things steady and cohesive making sure the rest of the band doesn’t lose track of structure completely.  Songs like “Right Wing” discuss Republican power dynamics alongside the powerful and ethereal “New” which deals with the frustrations of growing up only to realize that life is a lot scarier and darker than you were promised.  This is especially true of the Generation Y.  Growing up we were all told we were special and destined for greatness.  We were the “every kid gets a trophy” generation.  Now as we’ve all entered the real world, we’ve come to realize this was a lie and there is a certain amount of resentment towards older generations which fueled such dreams and now it seems are the ones in power preventing them.  PRIESTS capture this feeling perfectly in closing track “And Breeding” in which Greer screams “I’m trying to afford, everything I always asked for, everything they said was in store” and later “yeah I went to college, yeah I got a job, but I still can’t figure out how to join the mob”.  The song ends with Greer straining her throat yelling “Barack Obama killed something in me!” expressing the frustrations of young adults who put their faith in reform and change both in 2008 and 2012 only to have those dreams dashed after nearly 8 years of partisan gridlock.  Another track on the album, the fast paced “Modern Love/No Weapon”, showcases PRIESTS ability to compose striking and dominating instrumental powerhouses.  Each one of the albums eight tracks are different and bring something new and fresh to the table.  It doesn’t sound overdone, nor does it stress over the top musical diversity.  It’s just right.  I recently saw them on tour with Screaming Females, Vacation, and Tenement and while the other bands were fantastic including the Females, PRIESTS were something else entirely.  With whole portions of the performance devolving into atonal static and driving bass as Greer writhed on the floor screaming intensely politicized monologue, I was floored.   This is a band everyone needs to hear AND see.  It’s jarring, it’s in your face, it’s experimental, it’s punk rock.

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