Review: CNTS ‘Thoughts & Prayers’

Over the course of the last few decades, I’ve grown to trust the tastes of the good folks over at Ipecac Recordings, so upon seeing Thoughts & Prayers, the second full-length from CNTS, a Los Angeles noise-punk outfit comprised of scene veterans from bands like Dead Cross, Qui, Retox and Planet B, available for review, I knew at the minimum it would be an interesting listen, if not a total burner, so I went ahead and added it to the queue.

CNTS 'Thoughts & Prayers' Artwork
CNTS ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ Artwork

First, we need to provide some background. After releasing their debut in 2019, CNTS was hit with a devastating blow as vocalist Matt Cronk was in a vicious car accident, the result being severe damage to his vocal cords with doctors telling him he may never sing again. On a personal note, I can relate, if just a tiny bit, as I recently underwent surgery on one of my vocal cords and was unable to speak for a week as I recovered. Undaunted, Cronk kept the faith, and soon healed enough to resume singing and energized by his recovery, CNTS reconvened, and set about crafting the music that makes up Thoughts & Prayers.

The album kicks the door down and comes out raging with the rugged, angry, d-beat punk rock and roll of I Wont Work For You. Filled with a seething aggression and nasty guitar tones complimenting the pummeling rhythms, this is as good of a punk attack as I’ve heard since Negative Blast’s Echo Planet and I’d add that Cronk sounds just fine, if not for the press release mentioning his accident, one would never know he had voices issues as he possesses a killer, menacing yet desperate bark.

Not to be overlooked on I Won’t Work For You is the grimy riffs and ripping lead work of guitarist Michael Crain. Not content to rest on this monster, CNTS keep the pedal to the metal with the weird, yet blazing rock and roll hammering of the title track, Thoughts & Prayers, wherein drummer Kevin Avery proceeds to absolutely unleash the fury, as does Crain with more nasty, punk rock shred.

I feel we need punk rock like this, it always warms my cold black heart there are still musicians out there keeping the punk spirit alive…

Speaking of nasty, the guitar tone on first single, Smart Mouth is dirty enough that I felt like I needed a shower after first listening to it. As well, this song is a slippery, up and down, mean-ass rocker, and despite the shifts in dynamics throughout, it’s a killer, mid-paced chugger, that sits behind the first two tracks nicely. Dear Sir is a mind-melting, pummeling, hardcore, bash-fest.

We get some weirdness at the halfway point with the Suicide-style, synth-punk-meets grinding garage rock of For A Good Time (Don’t Call Her), which is sequenced perfectly, providing an aural, palette cleanser, before the insane beat-down and dizzying chugging riffage of total rager, Alone. Elsewhere, Eating You Alive careens between UK post-punk vibes and full-blown punk rock and roll abandon, while Real Truth is a rhythmic, noise-rock pounder, complete with that ever-nasty guitar tone in full effect.

Junkie is a driving, noise-punk strike, that proffers a real air of paranoia and desperation courtesy of Cronk’s unhinged vocal performance. The album then reaches its conclusion with the uneasy, filthy riffing, and bad vibes of Drown, a swirling, cathartic, sonic purge that winds up being the proverbial cherry on the top of an excellent noise punk rock and roll record.

CNTS have crafted a super cool, unique, banger of an album with Thoughts & Prayers. I enjoyed the shit out of it, hitting repeat multiple times on several tracks as I absorbed it. I feel we need punk rock like this, it always warms my cold black heart there are still musicians out there keeping the punk spirit alive, while still adding original elements and different approaches to the genre in 2024. This record slays, I can see myself revisiting it regularly and I’m here to champion it.

Label: Ipecac Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams