Music Review: “Dirt Church” – Raw Alt Rock From Groupoem

Groupoem recently dropped a new album, called Dirt Church. Hailing from Vancouver, B.C., Groupoem is made up of Terry “Rubberstone” Robinson on guitar; Marph “Mr. Science” on vocals; Chris “Flea” Lee sits in the pocket; and Darren “DK” Katamay on bass.

Dirt Church is a compilation of previously recorded but unreleased songs from 1987, along with new music recorded over the last couple of years. Billed as an alternative rock band, Groupoem amalgamates elements of alt rock, progressive rock and even a bit of punk into their sound.

Dirt Church encompasses eighteen tracks. The first nine tracks represent the newest music, while tracks ten through eighteen are from 1987. “SlimFast” combines punk and alt rock elements into a rocking tune with a rough raw sound, almost like a garage band. The vocals are half-sung, half-spoken, giving the tune a crazy, inebriated feel. “Affluenza” is another rough and ready rocker, emanating a grungy garage band feel that’s surprisingly good.

“Hall of Shame” exudes a Foreigner-like guitar intro and then transitions into a punk/thrasher-like melody riding primal-sounding guitars. There’s a gut-wrenching guitar solo that adds a no-holds-barred sensibility to the music. “Flat Earth” slows things down a bit, offering a melody tinged with dark tones conveying a crunchy alt rock melody. “Unshriveled” combines punk, garage rock and prog rock into a pulsating, harsh, brutal melody with opaque overtones and visceral guitars.

“Stalker” delivers a resonant prog rock flavor riding wet guitars as Marph’s unique vocals growl over the music. “Frozen” reminds me of a raw, bloody Foreigner tune. Relentlessly growling guitars crisp with sporadic high notes grind out the meat-flavored melody. “Pearls” begins with thrumming guitars and a hard, strong beat. The melody exudes punk, garage rock and alt rock elements. “Two Bulls” resembles a Bush song back when the boys didn’t shave and practiced in a garage. It’s thick with fuzzy guitars and atavistic rhythm.

“Skulls – Hey Judy” is the first of the songs from 1987. And the difference in style and sound is distinct. This tune reeks of punk thrash elements, rapid and harsh. “The EDGE” features thick, thrumming guitars punching out a punk-flavored melody that’s viciously unprocessed. The title track reflects crash/bash/thrash punk elements, along with rapid-fire guitars and quasi-blast beats. “Good Things” delivers a punk/new wave melody that crashes with staccato guitars and frenetic percussion.

“Sustenance” starts off with a bluesy riff that transition to a punk melody emanating a feverish rhythm riding agitated guitars. “The Barge Comes” sounds like rock-a-billy ramped up to thrasher levels. The guitars push out wave after wave of hectic tones. “Likely Story” delivers a high acrid melody riding guitars heavy with industrial punk tones. “Gagline” rumbles with punk guitars and crashing percussion. “Ass Bankwardz” is a hybrid of punk and thrash metal ramped up to obscene levels of sonic output. The throbbing guitar solo exhibits the smell of burning amps and smoking guitar strings.

Dirt Church exhibits full-spectrum dominance, displaying the musical progression of Groupoem over the last few decades – from punk/thrash to grungy progressive rock. Marph’s vocals are outlandish, surreal, ascetic and austere, all at the same time. His voice is raw and raspy and slightly menacing, while his articulation straddles speaking and singing. It’s one of those voices you either despise or love. I happen to love it.

Groupoem delivers a strikingly unique sound and style of music on Dirt Church, with ferociously raw and fierce guitars, cogent melodies and excellent vocals and lyrics. I highly recommend Dirt Church, especially if you like madcap rock and roll.

Find out more about Groupoem here.

Download Dirt Church here.

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