Bayside is a band that holds a special place in my heart – like it does for many other people. When I first started to get into punk and alternative music, Bayside was one of the gateway bands for me. The Walking Wounded drastically changed what I thought music could be. After being a band for more than 10 years, it’s amazing to see the quartet remain so pertinent to the scene.
Cult is what fans have been anxiously awaiting for years. It’s surprising Bayside has not used the name yet, considering the band is a cult – according to numerous T-shirts. It was well worth the wait, though, because Cult is the Bayside record I think we’ve all been waiting for. It opens with “Big Cheese,” a track that draws you right into the record. It’s the perfect follow up to Killing Time; it's fresh, but still smacking of the Bayside you remember from your youth. Right from the start, it’s obvious that Bayside is a matured band.
“Time Has Come,” is a throwback to Killing Time and Shudder, but ultimately forgettable, considering the aggressive tracks it’s sandwiched between. “Hate Me,” which was the second single released, is what really made me get interested in Cult. It reminded me why I love Bayside so much; Anthony Raneri’s crooning vocals mixed with Jack O’Shea’s brilliant guitar riffs in the chorus are timeless, classic Bayside sounds. Raneri warbles “I’m proud to say I’m flawed, but not that much,” as O’Shea rips out an amazing riff that will have you reaching to turn the record up.
“You’re No Match” is what I wanted “Time Has Come” to be: slow, yet still aggressive enough to keep my attention. Anyone who loved Killing Time will probably end up making “You’re No Match” their go-to track on Cult. “Pigsty” is another track that just reminds you why Bayside is such an important band. Raneri’s slick lyrics are dripping with venom throughout the entire song, as there are lines like “Your name is filth 'cause that’s all you spew from your mouth / Well, I think your moral compass is broken / It only points you south.”
The back half of the record slows down considerably – “Transitive Property” and “Objectivist on Fire” being particularly lackluster. Bayside redeem themselves with “Bear With Me,” one of the most powerful songs on the entire record. Its singsong melody tricks you at first, but “Bear With Me” is the climax of the record.
“Something’s Wrong” touches on an issue close to my heart with the lyric “All the boys celebrate their gender victory and keep preying on the weak, and the girls celebrate defeat.” As a woman in punk, I really appreciate the fact that Raneri is addressing the innate sexism that seems to invade nearly all scenes.
The record closes with “The Whitest Lie,” which is a blend of The Walking Wounded and “Bear With Me,” if anything. Cult ends on a satisfying note. It’s plain to see that the members of Bayside have come into their own with their seventh LP; they know what kind of band they want to be and they aren’t afraid to be it.