This bitch of a winter has certainly drained all sense of urgency and creativity from my wind chilled, parched cheeks warmed only with a tinge of blood and the thin veneer of facial fuzz. In between the polar vortexes and potholes, I’ve been frantically searching for something, anything, which would relieve me of the burden of being glued to a wool pea coat and red beanie.
And in the blubbering of my pudgy waistline, as a wayward recluse thumping away at computer keys and Netflix, there gleamed hope in the key of Cult, motioning me towards a future full of t-shirts and tan lines, with infectious hooks and aggressive, stalwart lyricism.
Launched on February 18th , Cult marks the sixth studio album release of punk rock darlings, Bayside, the humble four-piece hailing from Queens, NY and consisting of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Anthony Raneri, Jack O’Shea (lead guitar), Nick Ghanbarian (bass), and Chris Guglielmo (drums). Formed over a decade ago, Bayside is known for not only penning the letter of their genre but pushing the envelope. Cult is absolutely no exception to this, as the album self destructs in five seconds like some sort of Inspector Gadget secret message.
As the demonic opening to the album, “Big Cheese” packs enough flavors to fill a tube of pizza-flavored Pringles. It’s as if Raneri is pawing at a giant cathedral organ, whose pipes line the walls like stained-glass images in the Church of Modern Bayside. From Guglielmo’s fervent slamming of sticks against cymbals to O’Shea’s earsplitting, sex-worthy guitar, “Big Cheese” successfully cuts the album like an overpriced wedge of Gruyère at Whole Foods.
In a more fun and boisterous vein, “Time Has Come” is another track that relies heavily on O’Shea’s guitar, which faintly reminds one of a mystical, golden age of rock right before heavy solos became an accessory to glitter, spandex, and big, fluffy hair. In fact, O’Shea moves around much like a fairy in this respect throughout Cult, using his guitar as a wand to sprinkle sparkly solo dust throughout every song so much so that your mind becomes delightfully numb halfway through.
In past efforts, Raneri has been placed in the forefront, undoubtedly by the discretion of previous record producers. However, in Cult, you can hear the emphasis towards the rest of the group, from Ghanbarian’s ability to keep up with dizzily fast tracks like the nursery-rhymed “Bear With Me” to the continual pumping of Guglielmo’s kick drum on “Pigsty”; (I swear this guy must have leg muscles the size of baby giraffes). “Objectivist on Fire” slows the show a bit, creating a lilting, delicate number in the tune of Sheryl Crow’s “Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man”, almost as a response to her 20-year old question.
Cult is fucking thunderous. Every last track on the album is perfectly capable of making Zeus writhe on Mount Olympus with envy. In the last dying seconds of the record, lyrics are chanted from a crowd in “The Whitest Lie”; exemplifying not only how much fun Bayside had in creating Cult but ultimately an album whose soul is the testament of an endearing fan base.
I can’t wait to rub the cold off my joints, roll down my windows, and unleash Cult upon a neighborhood in early springtime slumber.
Cult is available now through Hopeless Records.