Doctorshopper – Degenerate Utopia

“True desperation isn’t born out of stubborn adversity or the tiredness of an uneven struggle. It comes from not knowing the reasons to fight or if, thoroughly, we must commit to said fight… Although the struggle is difficult, the reasons to fight it, at least, are still clear.” – Albert Camus

Rarely do I encounter an album I feel drawn to on a deeper level than the music, which is kind of a surprise considering how often philosophical and existential themes are hinted at within the extreme art I usually care about. That’s mainly where I’d say the real problem lies, in that you can tell bands have a passing interest in a certain ideology as it seeps through into their music and lyrics, but said elements are rarely explored in depth and are more often mere scraps of what they might actually believe in.

While it’s never a good idea to attribute certain beliefs or ideologies to music without having the direct input of the artist, it’s great when one is able to acknowledge certain ideas hidden beneath the songs that give them a greater depth. It’s even more compelling when you realise those same ideas are concepts you’ve explored on your own, thus giving the listener something to relate to on a personal level.

Doctorshopper’s music is, beyond any superficial pessimism the lyrics might indicate, testament to an inner struggle that yearns for a breakthrough, the endorsement of an absurdist lifestyle that would rather give up everything but hope, even if hope is foolish and its goals unclear. Recurrent themes of nihilism and drug lust hint at the need for a radical shift, revealing self-deprecation as the true road towards enlightenment. Songs like ‘Affordable Health Act’, ‘Ethnoreligious Convulsion’ and ‘Shooting Gallery’ are good examples, although the whole album emits this vibe. The fact that the same people behind this band are also the ones releasing it (Cult of Melancholia) wraps up the concept of this staunchly independent DIY label – something we might explore in the near future.

Although firmly rooted in hardcore, the band has incorporated plenty of elements from extreme metal, such as blastbeats amid the d-beat-influenced drumming and heavy, droning riffs during the interludes. And while we’re at it, it’s important to note the horribly distorted vocals, which would resemble early crust punk acts more if they weren’t partially drowned and shifted back into the music, allowing only brief glimpses into the main lyrical themes of each song. The album flows nicely due to a fast-paced delivery that rarely lets up, and there are several moments on the record where the quality songwriting and disparate threads of  influences really shine through, such as ‘Recreational Emaciation’ and the closer ‘All Alone In Her Nirvana’ – a Death In June cover and one of my personal favorites.

In a sea of clone bands cashing in on the current popularity of hardcore mixed with modern metal trends, Doctorshopper’s Degenerate Utopia stands out from the dross as thematically and musically mature, setting itself up as a memorable record that may well withstand the test of time. Degenerate Utopia can be purchased through Cult of Melancholia’s official store here, and it can be streamed and downloaded for free from their official Bandcamp page.

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