Mesa, Arizona punks Skull Drug recently released their fourth studio effort, 5-song EP Wasted Daze, and from a band that calls its style “punk with a metal edge” it is everything you would ever expect. Power chords, blazing guitar solos, visceral lyrics, and a drummer in Wyatt Clarke who sounds like he just might beat his way through his snare and toms with his sticks.
This is the group’s first record without the services of original bass player Butch Giles, and the changeover sounds seamless in its musicianship and quality. The most notable difference between Butch and newcomer Roger St. John is the change from Butch’s ogre-like grunts to St. John’s demonic growl in the backup vocals.
The record also goes in a more personal direction lyrically than much of Skull Drug’s earlier work. Throughout the five tunes, lead singer Evan Williams really lays out a lot of his personal problems for the listener.
The first track “One Day Never Comes” sets the pace of the album perfectly. It’s a high-energy tune with a very metal musical track beneath Williams’ lyrics about his own personal growth that just never seems to happen. It’s not hugely different than Skull Drug’s previous work, but that kind of makes it great. You know exactly what to expect from the fast-paced four-piece.
Track two “Conflicted” is in the same vein, with Williams airing his mental dirty laundry about many of his personal conflicts over a driving metal track laid down by his cohorts. It’s the shortest track on the record at a blazingly fast 1 minute 36 seconds. But it slaps you in the face the entire time.
The third track on the record is obvious single “My Father’s Son.” It’s got a catchy hook played by Skull Drug’s youngest member, lead guitarist Justin “The Hoon” Waldrop, and features a memorable chorus; those demonic backing vocals by St. John really stick out during the bridge as well. I once called Skull Drug’s tune “Sleeping In” the best punk song ever made, and I stood by that until the first time I heard “My Father’s Son.” It’s not only Skull Drug’s best work but a song that deserves some national attention.
“Naive” is the only song on the record that touches on American politics, which is something the band has done on all their previous records. It’s another blazingly fast track, coming in at just under 2 minutes. But as Phoenix punk icon Andrew Jemsek once said: “No great punk song has ever been longer than 2 minutes.”
The album’s capper “Goodbye, Lola” — ode to an ugly lost love — continues the record’s theme of emotional and intellectual honesty with the listener. Williams pulls no punches with his ex-partner’s behavior during the relationship while at the same time never holding back on himself.
All in all, Skull Drug’s new record is loud, it’s fast, and it’s punk.