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 garnered attention for 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 band’s brand new release is ‘Underground and Passed Around’ which released on January 26, 2019. Bwak Dwagon recorded the new album again with local producer Paul Maccarronne and again locally based Gotta Groove Records to press the vinyl. However, this album includes 3-D glasses to enhance the album art. “The color scheme [of the album art] has a lot of red and blue to it,” Clement explained to CleveScene. “There happened to be a pair of 3-D glasses in the room, and when we tried them on, the artwork looked great, so we decided to include a pair with the album. We have a gimmick of some sort with each record.” ‘Underground and Passed Around’ includes 12 well thought out tracks.
Ironically ‘Underground and Passed Around’ kicks off with the song “Underground” and the 12th and final track is “Passed Around,” the two tracks which appear as the album title bookend a slew of kick ass songs that will keep this vinyl spinning for days. “Underground” is a short welcome package of a song that first shows off the deep thundering bass tone of Jason Robinson and slowly but surely the rest of the trio fills in. It’s mostly instrumental with Matthew Clement only teasing his vocal talents. Moving on to “Down Below” we immediately get Clement’s vocals but they are recorded in such a way that they sound distant, and on this track it works beautifully. The vocals and other instruments sounded distant at times is purposeful, and it helps the songs have a bigger more raw aesthetic. The repetitive nature of Dave Busch’s guitar riffs on this track is almost hypnotizing at times, before he starts wailing away and then back into the seductive riff yet again. Clement also shows off a varying vocal style within this song as well changing the volume in which he sings. At times he is singing loudly in a gritty scream and then for the slower portions of the song its hushed almost to a whisper. “Winter Rose” will almost hauntingly remind you of The Doors. Maybe its the organ parts or the classic riffs but it certainly has that vibe that is also sometimes reminiscent of surf punk. The way Bwak Dwagon changes pace and style within each song is just stunning, at times it’s almost as if you have moved on to another track but the band has simply just changed gears. “Everything” is one of those songs that has a tremendous groove that compels you to get in a car and drive fast. Clement’s vocals and Busch’s guitar work on this track is everything you could want in a song. The thick treble and backing bass lines keep your head banging and your ears craving more. The final track on the album “Passed Around” begins with some wind chimes and then the guitar and bass work their way in. The vocals are then welcomed and lead the song into an spooky instrumental section. The song is very complex with multiple layers that keep unraveling and showing a new side of the band. As the song draws out you get these thick doom like riffs which eventually morph into a shrieking retro sound. “Passed Around” is just one example of how the band coils their sound back and forth while still retaining a fluidity within the composition.
If you like your music plain and vanilla, this isn’t for you. Bwak Dwagon have filled this album with a variation of styles and complexities that won’t unravel on the first listen. They have yet again created an album that will keep you listening closely at the obscure but flawless sounds they create; and it comes with fucking 3d glasses! Pick up this album today!