Quick Hits: Trip Machine Laboratories, Dose: 30 - Dose: 32

Very few record labels still send out physical promos. Even fewer send them out in groups of three-plus releases at a time. But Trip Machine Laboratories is cool like that, so it's time to run down their most recent batch, in chronological order. Lend 'em your ears, and buy 'em from the label on the cheap if you like what you hear. (Their distro has been known to put forth some crazy discount deals, too. Just sayin'.)

Dose: 30 - Black Communion, Black Communion (2016)

This self-titled EP from Portland, OR trio Black Communion finds current and former members of Young Turks and Carrion Spring kickin' out five tracks of dark, predominantly midpaced metallic hardcore with just the right amount of sludgy grit. Occasionally they'll pick up speed and head toward a more chaotically aggressive direction—or introduce an emotive sense of melody—but you'll still pick out the influence of traditional hardcore; as well as some choppy, Botch-ish "rock" riffs.

It's densely produced with a balanced mix that allows each ingredient to play an important role; and I'm especially loving the slick, roving bass lines. The disc is housed in a nice, simple gatefold digipack that includes its succinct, varyingly abstract lyrics, and is available for a mere $5.

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Dose: 31 - Miracle Drug, Demo 2015 (2016)

With this lineup, Miracle Drug is what some may refer to as a bit of a "supergroup" from Louisville, KY:

  • Bricks Avalon, vocals (Phallacy, C.R., etc.)
  • Thommy Browne, drums (By the Grace of God, Automatic, The Enkindels, Black Cross, etc.)
  • Jeremy Holehan, bass (Supertouch, etc.)
  • Matt Wieder, guitar (Mouthpiece, Guilt, Automatic, The Enkindels, etc.)

This 7" pressing of the band's 2015 demo consists of four tracks of raw, angry hardcore that definitely tends to have an "old school" type of sound—straightforward, but without falling into overly generic pitfalls. There's a little bit of looseness, a little bit of heaviness, and the sparsest of flirtations with some Dag Nasty-esque melodic runs, too. The vinyl arrives in a simple, nicely-designed sleeve; and the handwritten text style is a cool touch throughout. I must also cite the excellent, sophisticated lyrics you'd hope for from such seasoned veterans:

These years of isolated comfort solidify your routine. Any fresh ideas are met with shields of slander and fear. This coastal quality of life may need to sink not swim, that land-locked value could probably use a stronger wind to spin...

Some color variations are already sold out, but white (out of 147) and clay (out of 252) are still up for grabs... for now!

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Dose: 32 - Drowning Room, Catharsis (2016)

A split release with Glacial Records, I was the most excited about this unexpected new four-song EP from reunited Poughkeepsie, NY outfit Drowning Room, as The Divinity Syndrome 7" from 1996 is one of my favorite Trip Machine releases. Catharsis mark's the group's first new material in nearly two decades, and opener "Cinder" quickly demonstrates that Drowning Room's sinister brand of metalcore bolstered by an immediately identifiable Bloodlet-meets-Starkweather style of snarling-to-singing vocals remains intact. "Devastate You" is faster-paced and (musically) presents more of a traditional hardcore influence than expected; while "Great Yokai War" offers a killer balance of surging midpaced chugs and discordant chord phrasings—an approach that carries over into the slightly more active "The Disaster Artist."

I will confess that the production feels a little rough around the edges, so I find myself wishing the guitars had been heavier and the kick drums dropped back a touch in the mix, but I'll take it. As with Black Communion, the CD is packaged in a slick gatefold digipack with lyrics on one side, photos and credits on the other—all for the measly cost of just $5!

It sounds like Drowning Room has more new music on deck for 2017 as well. I certainly wish more of these unsung greats from the '90s would take a crack at some new material like this... and, you know, discography collections are always welcome, too!

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