Strangers With Guns - Become A Pope

23 Nov 2021 - Pat O'

Modern Grunge | Release date: 27 Nov 2021

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Seeking a plethora of inspiration from the grunge and metal era of the nineties, Strangers With Guns bring their own unique take on a generation that was flooded with attitude, brashness and vitality. But hey, this is Strangers With Guns we’re talking about, so not everything will be as it seems on Become A Pope. Expect the unexpected!

Even though my go-to music over the last decade or so has been “Post Rock”, “Post Metal”, “Post Black”, and “Black gaze”, to name just a few musical styles, there are times when I get a craving for something different, for music that’s not overly complicated or leaden in concepts and storylines. We all have those days when life hurls a shitstorm in your direction, where you want to drop your guard and just give the middle finger to the mundane. These become moments where you seek something more buoyant, yet still has enough intensity and attitude to keep you pumped and focused on not giving a damn! If I was to take a trip back in time, I would be looking to the likes of Faith No More or Butthole Surfers to crank things up and give me that much needed, adrenalin fuelled booster jab!

Fast forward to 2021 and I have sourced my vaccine in the shape of Dublin’s Strangers With Guns. The three-piece are releasing an album entitled Become A Pope which is due for release in the next few days. As the guys mentioned to me, “The EP was a while in the making although all the songs came together very quickly. It is broken into two parts, the first is relatively heavy while the second is a bit acoustic, but atmospheric and twisted in places”. The EP is very loosely referenced around Discordianism, a religion based on the veneration or worship of Discordia, the Goddess of chaos. That may sound a heavy topic but trust me the only thing heavy on Become A Pope is the music! So, with an open mind and the opportunity to shed your everyday skin, take a shot at Strangers With Guns’ unique take on all things chaotic and anarchic.

“Every Sunday” is the opener, and it all begins tamely. There’s a simple riff playing against some spoken vocals, with a patient drum beat and a funky base line, all rumbling along carefree and unperturbed. But as I highlighted earlier, not everything is as it seems, so when the scorching vocal chorus bellows, fused with its heavy distorted nineties riffs, the track instantly lights a fire beneath you and ignites. The strong, unconventional Dublin accent, with its nonchalant delivery is the key to this track’s success. For most of the readers here on Veil Of Sound, hearing this kind of vocal will be a first! It takes me back to Whipping Boy’s Heartworm album, and Fearghal McKee’s now iconic vocal delivery. This style of vocal contrasted against the heaving screams gives Strangers With Guns huge opportunities to layer and compile their sound in a way that bands with a singular vocal delivery can’t.

The second track, “Dr. Smile” is one of those tracks that will make you… well, smile. Tongue in cheek lyrics like “A leopard can change its spots, it’s a good thing you’re not a fucking leopard” will put you at ease and draw you into the track immediately. The patient build up brings forth another hook-filled chorus that delivers more hair raising outcries, followed by some punk-drunk vocals with “All I do is smoke crack and throw bricks at kids” tossed in between some swirling riffs and solos. A track dripping in energy and attitude, however, not to be taken literally!

Some glistening guitars open “Fuck The American Dream”, before the air gets dirty and gritty thanks to a deep base line and a chugging psychedelic groove. It’s got that “Jesus Built My Hot-rod” swagger to it, reigniting those nineties memories once more before chanting its way into the following track “Bimm/Art School Grant Whores”. Lonesome drums and a stoner hook slow things down momentarily before throes of angst and attitude erupt with “There’s always a how, a when is a when” delivered with dead pan perfection.

For the next track, walk this way with me as we power into “Fluoride In The Music”! A very famous verse blended brilliantly with their own trademark chorus makes this track a crowd pleaser without a shadow of doubt. The track is weighty and forceful and is in stark contrast to the remaining tracks on the album.

“This Aint a drill” is a dreamy lullaby that plucks its merry way along without any fanfare, opening the door for “When”, with its “Planet Caravan-esque” intro, tie dyed in more psychedelia and some Alice In Chains chords to round it off. “Ireland” is a gorgeous instrumental piece that draws from the well of simple acoustic picking, and a swell of distortion that perfectly brings the curtain down on an album that has succeeded in releasing you from life’s banal routines.

Strangers With Guns have brought us an album that can diagnose, medicate, elate, then sedate in one sitting! Become A Pope is something a little different, an album that has its own distinctive sound, but can still pay homage to a decade when grunge and distortion was the only cure. Strangers With Guns are also another example of the diverse Irish heavy music scene that is currently relishing its new lease of life. Long may that continue.