Death Pill - Death Pill (Cover Artwork)

Death Pill

Death Pill (2023)

New Heavy Sounds

I really want PN readers to prick up their ears to this one. Anyone who follows the org probably knows that my home turf is that of the heavier stuff the site deals with. And that is still true here, but that’s really not the whole story. Because this is as about as punk a record as you’re liable to hear this year. Bold words to come from a metalhead? Maybe. But indulge me for a while and you’ll at least begin to understand where I’m coming from. And for that to happen, you have to first know where Death Pill are coming from.

Death Pill are a 3-piece hardcore/riot grrl group from Kyiv, Ukraine. That’s to say, that is where they all hail from. However, given the current situation in Ukraine, the 3 members are currently spread over Ukraine, Spain and Australia. The record itself was largely written and recorded prior to the unjustified and unlawful invasion by Russia in early ‘22 but was mixed primarily during the period of invasion itself. That is an incredible thing in and of itself, but an even more extraordinary backdrop to be mixing a record as righteously furious as this. I’ve said Death Pill are hardcore/riot grrl so you might well have an idea of what they sound like. It might not be entirely accurate though, because there are more than a few passages which are more akin to thrash. The vocal delivery is probably closer to the pitched scream that often accompanies thrash, as well. The guitar tone is insistent, urgent, but thick enough that it actually sits in a neat pocket that gives it drive but a stabbing punch as well. The first major chord progression even sounds like it could have come from a 90’s Fat Wreck record. And who’s going to complain about that?

So the sonics of the record are great. Its authenticity is possibly unparalleled. What’s handy then, is that Death Pill also have a knack for a tune. They’re not all catchy, they’re not all malignantly brutal, but they all feel like they have purpose and have their own character. I don’t wish to reduce anyone in the band in any way, but taking lead vocal and guitar duties will inevitability mean Mariana draws more focus than Anastasiya (drums, backing vocals) or Natalya (bass) but they’re all pretty much flawless throughout. The switching from harsh to clean vocals (“Die For Vietnam” showcases both brilliantly) gives the band a dynamism not frequently seen and their ability to switch tempos just as easily is an incredible weapon to have in their arsenal.

This is riotcore thrashpunk, basically. I’m not sure I can think of many obvious frames of reference for bands who Death Pill sound like, despite them not necessarily doing anything revolutionary. The overriding feeling is that of urgency, discontent and defiance. Mariana’s vocals, at times, could strip the paint off of walls. The riffs are insistent and punishing without being rudimentary and the melodic and occasional major-key lines bring a real sense of fun to proceedings when the backdrop could have resulted in something altogether more po-faced. There’s hints of Pennywise and Strung Out but also Drain and even Gulch. It’s by no means perfect, but there is something in here for almost all fans of punk music and I really want people to listen to it.