Members of bummer seen through a window with silhouettes of leaves reflected across their faces
Bummer Credit: Skylar Cowdry

Since 2013, Kansas City trio Bummer have been belting out full-tilt, bludgeoning sludge that’s heightened by their dark-humored taste for grim obsessions and disaffected existence. Over a handful of EPs and one previous full-length, guitarist-vocalist Matt Perrin, bassist Mike Gustafson, and drummer Sam Hutchinson have railed against the ennui of their dead-end daily routines with an ungodly din—their 2018 debut was called Holy Terror for good reason. Bummer are among the many bands audibly influenced by the earsplittingly loud, bile-spewing assault of noise-rock standard-bearers Unsane, but what sets them apart from the pack is their penchant for balancing doom ’n’ gloom with witty self-deprecation and bleak themes with killer song titles (samples from Holy Terror include “Dimebagged” and “Fred Savage 420”).

After a split single with the Body in 2020, Bummer signed with Thrill Jockey, whose roster features several other bands that put a heady spin on metal, including Sumac, Aseethe, and Oozing Wound. Their debut for the label, Dead Horse, is 29 minutes of anthemic sludge-punk glory that’s sure to stir up the mosh pit. Bummer have sharpened their edges a tad, and Coalesce’s Sean Ingram and Portrayal of Guilt’s Matt King lend their wails to a couple tracks, but right from the ringing feedback that kicks off the album’s punishing opener, “JFK Speedwagon,” it’s clear the band haven’t abandoned their old sound: their riffs are as tasty as ever, their caustic shouts have grown more demonic, and their rapid-fire bass and drums blitz to the next level. The dregs of society remain in the crosshairs of Bummer’s ire on Dead Horse. Though songs called “I Want to Punch Bruce Springsteen in the Dick” and “Quadruple ZZ Top” could make juicy fodder for Beavis and Butt-head, the album’s subject matter is serious as a heart attack: “JFK Speedwagon” weighs in on the opioid crisis, and elsewhere the band indict the catastrophic environmental record of their hometown. Heavy topics notwithstanding, Dead Horse is tons of fun—a gnarly trip into Bummer’s midwestern hellscape and beyond.

Bummer’s Dead Horse (Thrill Jockey) is available on Bandcamp.