Scrape the scum and grime off the floors of every bar and basement in so-called Toronto that dared host a mob of unruly hardcore kids or sweaty, undulating goths and you get Dermabrasion — in sound and spirit.
For just over a year, the duo have peddled their fleshy post-punk in and around their home town with a deceptively ferocious live show that has landed them supporting slots for the likes of Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, Special Interest, Pixel Grip, Nox Novacula and Front 242’s Patrick Codenys.
Dermabrasion’s 2021 demo EP Lunate marked a return to form for members Adam Bernhardt and Kat McGouran who started writing and performing together in 2015 with defunct Toronto punk band WLMRT. The five tracks on Lunate with a low-fi production that smacks of early Sisters of Mercy recordings offered only a haunting, shadowy outline of what the pair now bring forward with their full-length debut, Pain Behaviour.
Set to be released on Toronto-based Hand Drawn Dracula January 26, 2024, Pain Behaviour chews up and spits out sonic motifs across 10 tracks that piece together a collection of influences reflecting the years both musicians have spent skulking around their city’s nightlife. The beer-flavoured ghouls smoking outside venues that no longer exist; the backed-up toilet smell hanging in the nightclub air together with fog, lasers and Siouxsie.
Produced by Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Nailbiter, Breeze, Beliefs, Vallens) and mastered by Noah Mintz, Pain Behaviour completes the baleful statement Dermabrasion first uttered with Lunate. Korody’s experience with electronic music helped hone the band’s sound to a menacing edge they call “death rock and roll,” swinging equally in the directions of first wave and contemporary post-punk, industrial, NWOBHM and meathead rock.
Brooding grooves like album opener “Halberdier” and “Goblin Dance” want to allure like a California darkwave fest poster while primitive progressions like those of “Proving Grounds” and “Sleepless” betray a willful lack of discipline for the sound to ever fully wrest its claim to punk. Hardcore riffs dressed for goth night at the sports bar.
A fascination with the corporeal form and the occult threads through the lyrical subject matter in what McGouran describes as a “mid-concept.” With allusions to Roman Catholicism, LaVeyan Satanism and genre fiction, the songs on Pain Behaviour investigate shame, power, duty and the responsibility of simply inhabiting a human body.
While needling, existential questions appear on several tracks, the full pastiche of the band’s ersatz dogma is best demonstrated in the wicked anthem heralding the album’s halfway point, “Magic Missile.” Over a thunderous kick drum and snare hits that crack like a whip, the query curls like smoke: When the gods falter, what size are the faults?
“Halberdier is a crunching statement of intent” – CLASH MAGAZINE
“An ominous cacophony of industrial-tinged post punk – a heavy, brooding gothic anthem” – GET IN HER EARS
“the Toronto-based duo are fast becoming firm favourites of mine. Such a banger!” – GET IN HER EARS
“Firstly, prepare to be blown away by the sheer weight of this release and the fact the duo has delivered one of the most audacious arrangements yet” – CIRCUIT SWEET
“smacks of Godflesh with a backhand of classic hip-hop as it oscillates between acidic highs and lows” – VIDEO OF THE DAY – NORTHERN TRANSMISSIONS
“the primitive darkwave rhythms start to unfurl and swallow us all up within the confines of a gothic palace of noise” – LOUDER THAN WAR
HDD115 · RELEASE DATE: January 26, 2024
Dermabrasion are Kathleen McGouran, Adam Bernhardt. Words and music by Kathleen McGouran, Adam Bernhardt. Additional synth and auxiliary instruments by Josh Korody. Engineered, produced, mixed by Josh Korody at Candle Recording. Mastered by Noah Mintz at Lacquer Studios. Art direction and design by Leesa Westwood.
“the drum tracks hone the song’s haunting, lo-fi groove to a sharp and menacing edge” – SHE MAKES MUSIC
“an edgy blend of post-punk, industrial, and noise rock equipped with heavy, warped guitar lines, crushing drums and the riotous vocals of Kat McGouran” – COLORISING
“Definitely dark and evil, with guitar slashes and screams that precisely hit the ears of the listener – exciting and unstoppable!” – INDIE FOR BUNNIES
“Hardcore riffs dressed for goth night at the sports bar” – BIZZARRE