For 30 years Dropdead has been punishing audiences with their caustic powerviolence and even if you’ve never heard them you’ve undoubtedly listened to some of the scores of bands that have been influenced by them or, if you’ve been through their hometown of Providence you’ve most likely stopped in to Armageddon Shop, one of the finest metal and punk record stores in the country, and asked owner (and Dropdead guitarist) Ben Barnett about things to see in the city. Or you could run outside mid conversation to puke in the street like I did my last time there. We all experience life differently.
The band has had a pretty rough few years, first with frontman Bob Otis enduring a brutal motorcycle accident that put him out of commission for a bit and, most recently, their van was stolen when they were in Montreal for Earslaughter 4. Unfortunately this isn’t an uncommon story. You can’t seem to go more than a few weeks without hearing someone’s rehearsal room was fucking ransacked or their vehicle went missing. The uncommon thing about this story is how the band is working to move forward after such an obstacle: the same way they’ve spent the last few decades grinding across the world — by their own hands.
I’m always fucking excited when there’s a new Dropdead recording, and this week the band decided to release a 10-song demo digitally. This is important for two reasons, the obvious one being that this will help them to raise money for a new van but the more pressing reasons is that it gives us a taste of the full-length they’re working on, their first for quite some time. Initially, these tracks were recorded as references for the band to use while putting together the next album, but under the circumstances, they decided to release this to the public and we’re honestly all better for it. The songs still have Dropdead’s trademark aggression but some of the speed has been dialed back, giving them a bit more punch, and Otis’ vocals have more of a varied delivery than they have in the past, which considering this is a message-driven band, I can only see as a benefit.
In an era of bands asking for constant handouts to subsidize their mediocre lifestyles it’s comforting to know there’s still folks like the elder statesmen of Dropdead who still believe in dedication and making sure generosity isn’t a wishing well to toss coins in.