Review: EL DRUGSTORE – “Plague Ship”

El Drugstore

El Drugstore formed around 2008 by past and present members of New Jersey progressive outfit East of the Wall and have remained a rather silent entity since their inception. The trio of riff-manglers have released a handful of stand alone tracks and a split EP with noisy duo A Fucking Elephant, but are still relatively unknown despite being attached to East of the Wall, whose notoriety is slowly growing. But El Drugstore are bound and determined to change that with their mind-boggling full length debut, Plague Ship. The common brain is not prepared for this massive forty-five minutes of eccentric complexity and intricate musicianship.

In a sense, El Drugstore takes the more aggressive, technical passages of East of the Wall and increases their grandiosity to ludicrous levels. El Drugstore take the blueprints provided by bands like Dysrhythmia, Keelhaul, and Don Caballero and create a sound all their own that is equal parts heavy, technical, and zany. Plague Ship sets sail with disorienting, cycling melodies on “Tell Them I Said Something”. El Drugstore make their entrance a grand one with angular riffage, psychedelic bass wizardry and erratic drumming; all of which come together in a nice warped package. The track leads right into the rolling palm muted, pinch harmonic assault that opens the hilariously named “Hipster Tits”. The track features lengthy processions of serpentine guitar and bass licks intertwined with echoing clean sections and primal, building leveling chugs. It’s one of the many fine examples of El Drugstore’s tendency to write continuously evolving songs. As Plague Ship‘s voyage continues, the songs become increasingly elaborate. “Enthusiastic Corruption of the Public Good” starts off with a insanely catchy bass groove before the band marches into their familiar, twisted realm of erratic time-signatures and endless supply of eccentric riffs. “By What Ill-Begotten Means Have You Procured This Meat?” is a psychotic dirge of stuttering, stop-and-start instrumentation that will murder your equilibrium in cold blood and leave your brain to decay. “Tokyo Assault” shreds through your sanity with its whirlwinds of knife like riffs and dissonant, nauseating breakdowns. It’s as if El Drugstore took the form of a drug-induced kaiju hellbent on eradicating the aforementioned Japanese city. There are so many musical nuances to be explored on Plague Ship that trying to write about all of them would be suicide. El Drugstore’s debut full length features too much zany, musical virtuosity for most to handle.

El Drugstore’s Plague Ship was well worth the wait. This forty-five minute, manic behemoth will devour you whole and let you soak in its psychedelic digestive juices before regurgitating you a changed, possibly mentally-disturbed human being. The music is hyperactive, disjunctive and jarring. It will enthrall you as well as pummel you with its tornadoes of complex riffing and eccentricities. Instrumental technical metal has been done before but El Drugstore have a style all their own and Plague Ship can attest to that. If you like your music drug-induced and mentally-deranged, then you should give El Drugstore a chance.


Rating: 9/10
Label: Nefarious Industries
Release Date: December 31st, 2013
Favorite Tracks: “Hipster Tits”, “Enthusiastic Corruption of the Public Good”, “The Natives Are Getting Useless”, “Tokyo Assault” and “Steakback”
For Fans Of: Dysrhythmia, Keelhaul, Don Caballero, Loincloth, and East of the Wall


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