It’s always fun to see a genre from a fresh perspective, and much more so if it’s coming from the eyes of a new generation. Bacchae started as a band in 2016, back when they didn’t know what they were getting into. Fast forward to 2020, they have released their debut Pleasure Vision, and the result is a dissection of punk in a spectrum of different styles and expressions. It’s clear that the band is currently in the middle of their exploration stage, but that doesn’t stop this from being an entertaining experience. Bacchae’s versatility is palpable, they are not afraid to bare their teeth and sink it in your skin with frenetic drums and discordant riffs, while still having their fair share of sensitive songs that dive deep into emotional and introspective subjects.
There’s three categories in which I can loosely explain these differences in style, first of which is the rebellious hardcore group, starting with “Leave town”. Its vocals grab you by the throat with its sadistic delivery, stabbing in with villainous intent. The guitars are in full snarl and sneer, warning you to stay out. The bridge is by far the most entertaining part, with a theatrical breakdown of scornful lyrics — think Demon Barber meets punk. “Stop Looking” is a song about social anxiety and the pressure of everyone’s expectation. Brimming with a sassy attitude, each word is spitefully uttered like insults from the Mean Girls’ burn book. “Older I Get” reaches its boiling point immediately with its screeching guitars and urgent drums, lashing out at an authority figure. The hook “You’re disillusioned / guilty as proven” sinks in deeper every time it repeats.
The pop-punk side is sweet and charming, almost as if the band has shape-shifted back to human form. In “Hammer”, the vocals are soft and sincere, the instruments follow with a surf-rock calm that’s great for a Sunday afternoon. “Everything Ugly” is an episode of self-loathing where everything you seem to do just doesn’t turn out right and it feels like you’re wasting your time.
The third group is for the outliers, this is where the band stretch their chops and come up with something of their own — the choice cuts that stand out from their peers. “Turns Me” has an 80’s inspired groove with glittering synths and danceable rhythm. The result is evocative, with lyrics describing a dangerous see-saw between love and lust. The best is saved for last in “Losing War”. The hardcore inspired sound is combined with theatrical delivery, turning it into a rock opera masterpiece. An anthemic song with dynamic vocal work, you can hear the poison drip with every howl and wail. If rebel groups had a recruitment song like this, people would surely line up to sign in.
Pleasure Vision stays true to its punk roots while still offering a good variety. Whatever style you may favor, you are sure to find what you like in its 11-track runtime. Although this may be a good start on its own, I feel like Bacchae is still on track to develop their own style, and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
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