Since founder Joe Crudgington first premiered the band in 2019, DRØWND has demonstrated a profound desire to push the boundaries of both musical possibility and the acceptable tastes of the public. After a series of EPs and video releases, [An]Aesthetic is the long-gestating culmination of the band’s efforts to create a new form of shock rock with a purpose. Though some might feel this is ground already tread, there is always potential for new heroes to emerge and forge the sounds of old into a newer context, and if Crudgington is to be damned, [An]Aesthetic makes clear that he’s going to enjoy every painful moment of it.
“Palpitation” begins the proceedings with ominous aplomb, the repetition of a resonant synth lead atop a darkly ambient pulse and Crudgington’s whispered rasp hinting at the imminence of industrialized guitars and drums, continuing seamlessly into “Filth.” The juxtaposition of lines like “the price that we pay for living in filth is cheaper than the lie” with the almost deliberate lack of sophistication in “I don’t give a fuck, I just want to fuck” will almost surely take listeners back through downward spirals of antichrist superstars, and the album only doubles down on these callbacks to two-to-three decades ago with songs like the corrosive and staccato thrust of “Choke,” the slithery “Enough is Enough,” and the accusatory auditory acidity of “You’ll Destroy This.” Indeed, there is a somewhat inconspicuous similarity to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” in the strutting distorted beat and funky bass synth of “Sinner,” the gritty vocal effects and grinding hook of the chorus proving why the song was such a great single, now presented here in its full form with an extended coda that only amps up the intensity. Also notable is “Dirty” for its bluey character, complete with pensive bass and pianos almost whimsical, as well as “Deathwish,” which introduces some hip-hop elements in its scathing bass and Crudgington’s rapid fire vocal.
The densely bleak atmosphere of [An]Aesthetic in tandem with Joe Crudgington’s direct yet sincere lyrics makes for an intoxicating and darkly sensual experience, matching the quality if not the adulation of those aforementioned entries of a bygone era. DRØWND manages to avoid the trap of novelty and instead, offers a thruway for awe and new forms of shock, beckoning listeners to embrace rather than shun… or to put it more crudely, fuck rather than be fucked.