Some albums instantly reward listeners with big hooks, sparkling production, and an eagerness to please. Other albums offer up complex arrangements and knotty lyrics, challenging listeners to unlock the rewards within. Then there are albums like Drugs Dragons’ II & I/II, which doesn’t give a shit about listeners. This is an album that gets drunk, gets high, gets thrown out of the bar, and gets in a fight with the cops—all before barfing in an alley and rubbing your face in it.
Like an angry C.H.U.D. or that Kuato dude in Total Recall, Drugs Dragons are a thing of slime-covered beauty. Led by artist and scene stalwart Puke Drugs (a.k.a. Luke Chappelle), the band spews forth a noxious blend of degenerate metal, snarling punk, and busted psych. Best of all, there’s not a trace of irony to be found in the entire mess: 2010’s self-titled LP and 2011’s Milorganite EP found Drugs Dragons earnestly stomping their way through debauched tales of depravity, odes to ill-advised coupling, and tributes to local fertilizer companies. Pissed-off and straight-faced—but not without a gleam in their eye and a collective shit-eating grin—Drugs Dragons proved themselves to be one of Milwaukee’s most delightfully despicable bands.
Shockingly, II & I/II finds the group taking its loathsomeness to a whole new level. (That’s a good thing.) Past songs like “Milorganite” seem like radio-friendly pop nuggets compared to the swirling sonic upchuck of opener “Rabid Quasars.” “Rotting Face” and “Police Shadows” have plenty of garage-rock momentum, sure, but they hew closer to the sound of forced bathroom retching than anything resembling popular music. Even the album’s most crowd-pleasing and anthemic moments—“Love, Love You With Knives,” “All The Spiders”—are covered in such a thick coat of goo, wigged-out guitars, and B-movie sound effects that it’s hard to discern what, exactly, is going on. But there is something going on: It all adds up to a dirty, transgressive, and wonderfully warped album that dares listeners to lose themselves in the din, find themselves in the wreckage, and cleanse themselves in the filth.
But maybe that’s overthinking it. Maybe the only thing you need to know about II & I/II is that it was recorded in one day—the 20th anniversary of Jeffrey Dahmer’s arrest. Yeah, II & I/II is that kind of album, and Drugs Dragons are that kind of band. Happily, both are perfect, putrid specimens. Listen to II & I/II now, vile hominids, only at Milwaukee Record.
Drugs Dragons celebrate the release of II & I/II Friday, July 25 at the Cactus Club. Midwives and Slow Walker open the show. Minneapolis’ The Blind Shake headlines.