The debut LP from self-named spinners of ‘real’ rock
cleopatrick are either starting a revolution or an underground rock mafia. Or both. If you navigate to the .pdf file on their old-school computer interface-themed website, there’s the manifesto of “the new rock mafia,” what they describe as “a collective centered around the development, distribution, and defense of real guitar music.” What do they classify as faux guitar music? Anything that isn’t old, or conventional? The Canadian rock duo are one of the three founding bands of the cabal, with over 1500 members worldwide, and it’s “only the beginning,” it reads before signing off with the slogan “fuck the fakes new rock mafia forever.”
So that must mean cleopatrick’s solidarity with the new rock mafia will bring forth a new entry in its creed in their debut LP, BUMMER. That authenticity and novelty of what they think real guitar music is presented in full splay with their sparse trifecta of drums, a sludgy guitar with a stringent fidelity for notes over chords and live-wire vocals. Although there’s not much in their arsenal to defend the new sound of rock, they certainly prove there’s a beauty in brevity.
Most of the blaring, more-or-less three-minute tracks rely on a catchy riff that feels like it’s dripping thick with mud and wrangled in barbwire, and that impulse to make rock real again is indisputable. cleopatrick is pretty ambitious in the album, starting out with what bears a semblance to a trip-hop production found in the steady percussive beat and the vocals going for more melody than a meltdown in “VICTORIA PARK” as lead singer Luke Gruntz plangently delivers lines about an Instagram pyramid scheme over a wickedly loud and scuzzy guitar when he’s not semi-rapping in the quieter points. Segueing into the semi-solid slurry of the next track, “THE DRAKE,” the lead singer opens up his vocal range crying out to inflections of doom and determination, coming close to the cataclysmic sounds of Death From Above 1979.
That same doom dilutes down a bit, and the guitar becomes percussive, balloons into the immense thrash that’s home to other tracks, cleopatrick either proving they can go slower or that they’re just winded from letting the floodgates remain open for too long. Whatever it is, it allows them to experiment. “WHY JULY” saunters in with languid but loud drums and a markedly softer voice, and “2008” picks it back up but tamps it down into a whisper like he’s singing under a cramped ceiling while the guitar, heavy as ever, plays tentative notes.
With all that rock revolutionary rhetoric, the eye-redacted album cover art and a vociferous granite-dense rock presupposed by its capsed-out track titles, cleopatrick tap into a douchey, gatekeeping fascist side—maybe one they think is perfectly analogous to the hard rock they grate out. Yeah, they have a couple of songs on the slow and softer end (they still somehow imbue with the selfsame grunge of their more unforgiving songs) that evoke some genuine inner confliction, but it still reverts back to that cathartic brashness. BUMMER may be the beginning of a new bête noire in the hard rock scene that dominates a new coming the youth can really sink their teeth into, as the band has prevised under the auspices of the new rock mafia. But let’s see (with a healthy touch of circumspection) where they choose to go next. “Move over, Beethoven” has already been sung so many times before.