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Rock and Roll Killing Machine

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Album Review

"Hardcore math-metal with a double side order of emo" would be a good start in describing this album, Drowningman's first full-length (or, at least, at 28 and a half minutes, their longest release to date). They combine the fast-paced controlled-chaos of bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan with more of an emphasis on melody as well as — gasp — a sensitive side. That is, in addition to screaming his lungs out, vocalist Simon Brody also sings a good bit of the time, often sounding like he's about to break down in tears. His lyrics highlight the music's urgent, anthem-like tone, repeatedly using the words "tonight" and "we" (e.g., "Tonight we're coming back," "Tonight we'll paint the walls with a bucket of your blood," etc.). Through it all, the band fluidly navigates the flood of riffs, complex time signatures, and tempo changes that run through every song. Especially noteworthy is how the dual guitars intertwine and complement each other, creating harmonies that are sometimes harsh and discordant, while at other times melancholy and almost even pretty. Despite all the dazzling complexity on hand, each of the songs gives the listener something to grab hold of — usually in the vocals — making this album relatively accessible as far as this type of punishing, sensory overload-inducing hardcore goes. Concise, yet filled with details, Rock and Roll Killing Machine lends itself to many listens and reveals something new with each one. Impressive.

Customer Reviews

Interesting at the Least

I'll keep it short and sweet and say that this is one of THE best hardcore/metal/whatever albums of the hardcore explosion. The production is sloppy in a good way and everything comes through when it needs to. The guitarists play with skill and yet the songs come through as completely organic. This is a brutal record and I love it. Highly recommended.


As was said before, a criminally underated band. And a pretty apropos album title.

what snuck under the radar

I read in an interview that the drums for this album had to be recorded twice because the tape machine fried the reel the first time. Bummer city. Fortunately, they pressed on and squeezed out this fine gem. Why this band didn't blow up like Botch, Dillinger and Converge, I do not know... I love this band for many reasons, one being their lyrics, which are picturesque and chronically sadistic. Think Hemmingway meets Hiaasen. This delivery makes it a lot less whiney when more sentimental lyrics drop in. With the exception of the singer, the band has undergone lineup changes for every album. You wouldn't know unless you read the liner notes because this band sounds like same unit, just evolving on each record. The bass is always clanky, the guitars are always complex, violent and beautiful. The band always sounds "hard" more so than "heavy" and I love that. They kept the game interesting. Also, seek out "Busy Signal at the Suicide Hotline," and try not to get paranoid just listening to it. It's not on iTunes yet.


Formed: 1997 in Burlington, VT

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Not easily pigeonholed, Drowningman's blisteringly intense sound combines elements of heavy metal, modern hardcore, grinding noise, math rock, and emo (in both its melodic and progressive, Dischord-esque forms). The band was formed in the unlikely college town of Burlington, VT; its members included vocalist Simon Brody, guitarists Javin Leonard and Matt Roy, bassist Dave Barnett, and drummer Joe Villemaire. Drowningman debuted in 1997 with a 7" single, "Weighted and Weighed Down," on Boston-based...
Full Bio
Rock and Roll Killing Machine, Drowningman
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