"Plague Ship"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It is very hard indeed for instrumental metal bands to come up with a full album of consistently interesting material. Only a handful can do it. El Drugstore unfortunately is not one. That lack of vocals and the constant dizzying time changes here make "Plague Ship" a very monolithic listen, one that wears out its welcome by the time the last chords arrive.

To be sure, this album is a noticeable improvement over their last effort, a split LP with A Fucking Elephant. They were just plain boring on that platter. "Plague Ship" has a much better production, with all the instruments coming across beautifully. The bass sound in particular is awesome here. The songs are more interesting as well. But even the addition of senseless growls or weird Mike Patton like yodels would have added some interest. The songs themselves are pretty much variations of a theme, with a lot of looping, quirky riffs being repeated. If you started playing one without me knowing what it is, I probably couldn't tell you which one it was. The absence of the human voice also means you can give the songs snarky "ironic" titles like "Hipster Tits" (self-referential, maybe?), "Fascinating Underpants" and "By What Ill-Gotten Means Have You Procured This Meat?" Good for a dry chuckle, little more. This is frenetic math-metal coming from the same template. To be really quirky, El Drugstore might have tossed in some variations....a song that's slow all the way through, one maybe using samples and keys, one with some ethnic flavor. Instead, they're all pretty much the same style.

An exercise in musical experimentation, the appeal of this will be sorely limited.