BWAK DWAGON was forged in the rock n roll town of Cleveland, Ohio. The three piece band is made up of Matthew Clement on drums and vocals, Dave Busch on guitar, and Jason Robinson on bass. Together, they mix heavy riffs with haunting tones and lyrics. This powerful trio has plenty to offer and though this band may be small in numbers they are big in sound. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2014 and was released independently by the band. It is also now available on vinyl via Gotta Groove Records I might add. The debut was recorded by Paul Maccarrone (Obnox) at 71st Door in Cleveland, OH and mastered by Charlie Loudin (The Pistolettes) at My Other Car Is The Space Time Continuum in Kent, OH. The band of course has had a strong string of live performances in and around the Cleveland area and has quickly drawn attention to their heavy and haunting sound. Just 2 years later the band has released a follow up to their debut titled ‘Plum Island’ which released in September of 2016. The band coming off the heels of a successful first album again went to Paul Maccarrone for recording and Charlie Loudin for mastering. The lyrical content is one of the strongest points within the Bwak Dwagon sound and those words are brought to life on paper and in voice by Matthew Clement. It’s not often we get a chance to hear the drummer show off his pipes while also beating his drum kit to shreds but Clement is able to easily accomplish this.
The first thing you really hear in the opening track of ‘Plum Island’ is a true raw live show kind of sound. Musically the song “Skeleton Sweet” seems to be mixed all on equal levels. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals are at a complete stalemate in volume. It works rather well I must say too. As a whole the song has a retro rock feel mixed with some grunge elements. Clement’s vocals soar throughout the song especially during the chorus. The track is barely over two minutes but it feels like a blissful eternity. “Gored By A Bore” short interlude with a punk and rockabilly vibe and it immediately starts with a groovy bass line. It breaks up the tracks very well and leads almost directly into the next song “Feather Dust”. This song certainly puts the guitar work from and center with some killer leads and ample solo work throughout. Guitarist Dave Busch flaunts his talents well here but not enough to take away from the songs composition. The riffs he adds to the song are varied and create an amazing contrast within the song. “Crimson Flame” may just be my favorite track on the album. Busch’s guitar work is strong and Clement’s voice has this haunting tone which develops into a raspy gravely howl at times. One of the most interesting things about Bwak Dwagon’s style is how they can take a 2 minute song and incorporate so much into it. Because the vocals aren’t at a maxed out volume it makes you listen even more closely to each track and in a way you get lost in the song and it lasts much longer than the time stamps might show. You could say it’s like a time warp, where you just get lost in the sound and time become irrelevant. “Blood And Sunshine” is the longest track on ‘Plum Island’ coming in at around the 5 minute mark. The song starts out with some minimalist sounds that gives ambiance to the song. It has a cinematic-esque approach. Clement’s vocals create a perfect harmony along with the music and bassist Jason Robinson adds some bottom end groove really keeping the song firmly planted on the ground. Clement’s vocals take on some changes throughout the duration of the song. His melodic singing perfectly melds into the almost tribal drum beat and then later it develops into a more hushed growl. In perfect fashion the song ends with a delicate yet tamed amount of feedback.
Bwak Dwagon refuse to give in to the sophomore slump. The instrumentation on the album is just as important as the lyrical content and vocals, and they prove that by keeping everything equal within the mix. Their style and mix makes you listen all that much more closely to their music, and because of that it delivers this unique sojourn experience. ‘Plum Island’ has no weak links. From open to close it’s an album that gets more intense with each listen. Close your eyes, listen closely and ease down into the rabbit hole that is Bwak Dwagon’s own unique style.