Dermabrasion - Pain Behaviour

Pain Behaviour
Hand Drawn Dracula

Toronto duo Dermabrasion do a solid job of reinvigorating common understandings of post-punk, goth, and the intersections theirin on their debut LP. Simultaneously dishing out seriously heavy and brooding tunes while tossing about all manner of D&D and related imagery, Pain Behaviour is a solid and distinct statement of arrival.

Pleasantly, for a post-punk band interested in exploring gothier territory, Dermabrasion aren’t trying to rehash the Joy Division formula for the umpteenth time, nor is the well picked-over corpse of The Birthday Party being dragged out. Instead, they’re working with a less explored and more muscular form of dark rock which prioritizes heavy bass and thudding machine rock grooves a la Big Black (there’s a kinship with Germany’s Noj in this regard). The level-up that’s happened between the duo’s demo work and Pain Behaviour accentuates this sound. While the preceding material is enjoyable enough, the sheer thudding weight of Pain Behaviour‘s sound makes for a much stronger formal introduction.

Things can be a bit more nimble at times, with “Grim Sister” skipping along a high-wire separating the always contentious dance punk sound and the post-hardcore approach to goth taken up at the turn of the millennium by Heart Of Snow and Antioch Arrow. While heaviness and an overbearing sene of doom are Dermabrasion’s watchwords, they’re smart enough to find ways keep the energy going and not fall into dour spaciousness. Kat McGouran’s vocals are a versatile weapon here, shifting from a husky, forlorn croon on excellent opener “Halberdier” to a frothing-at-the-mouth shriek on “Proving Grounds”.

Terming themselves a “death rock and roll band” makes for a nice squaring of Dermabrasion’s circle. Beholden neither to the more restrictive elements of goth nor the austerity of post-punk (again, we’re talking about a band with tracks named “Magic Missile” and “Goblin Dance” here), the thrashing grooves which make up Pain Behaviour can be parsed by the listener in accordance with their own taste and moods. Recommended.

Buy it.