February 22, 2011 - Decaydance/Sire
After many months of conjecture and kneejerk-reactive hatred, the debut album from Craig Owens' new band is ready for the world. Not only does D.R.U.G.S. have to measure up as a consummate statement of artistic intent from Owens in the wake of his dismissal from Chiodos, it has to appeal to fans—from mosh maniacs to those marinating in Vera Wang's Princess—who latched onto his previous work for different reasons. Fortunately, with the help of able-bodied bandmates and producer John Feldmann, Owens has succeeded in uniting his tribes.
The album's lyric sheet may reveal a hefty amount of seething and psychic wounds on behalf of its author, but the band's sonic Kevlar is in place. When the laser hits the first track, "If You Think This Song Is About You, It Probably Is," you know immediately it's totally game on. Guitarists Matt Good (From First To Last) and Nick Martin (Underminded) bring the crunch, while drummer Aaron Stern (Matchbook Romance) and bassist Adam Russell (Story Of The Year) drive the proceedings with aplomb. The ridiculously titled "Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm" successfully marries wobbly dubstep pulses and other electronic effects to the band's riffage as Owens delivers some pointed sentiments ("If dying is your way out/Then count me in, I'm coming"). String section samples pepper "Graveyard Dancing," giving the song an added dimension (think of it as a brawny second cousin to the Used's "Paralyzed") as Owens' recollects a broken relationship.
The highlight of the entire album is "Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups," fueled by Stern's rapid-fire rhythms and Good's power riffing. Here, Owens seems both furious and ambiguous: With lines like "You wanna be forgotten like the rest/Do you wanna stand up and fucking be somebody," you don't know if he's giving someone a "tough love" speech or making a mental note to himself to fight off his ghosts and keep going. The feel-good anthem "I'm Here To Take The Sky" is the band's ambitious bid for mainstream success, with Owens keeping it posi over the loss of a love ("I'm not sorry, I'm not sorry/I'm gonna live my life, live my dreams/I'm gonna make my rules, my own scene") as the band deliver a buoyantpop feel that's probably best enjoyed through the speakers in a convertible on a July afternoon.
For their first step up to the plate, Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows have done an admirable job reconciling personal motivations with their fans' expectations. "Sometimes hate can be so beautiful," Owens sings on "The Hangman," but as time progresses, his worldview will hopefully have changed significantly and he won't feel any need to visit the muse of retribution in an effort to strike back lyrically at those who may have done him wrong. At the end of the day, the bottom line is this: Listeners who still feel they have to take sides between D.R.U.G.S. and Chiodos' Illuminaudio need to hit the closest bottle of chill pills. Because everybody's better off, and the world's MP3 players are twice as rich because of it.