Bellingham, WA trio Dog Shredder was born from two ideas, both stemming from “late-night conversations over cheap beer.” First, the comically-brutal moniker (relax, PETA) originally represented an imaginary band that would “have to rip,” the band writes to SONGLYRICS, “And they’d better be heavy or else!” And second, these Dethklok-esque prog-rock personas had to learn “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes, which is now a fixture of their live set.

While the word “prog” equates often with several-minute, arpeggiated keytar solos played by a leotarded dude, this knee-jerk association needs reevaluation. “Proggy” artists these days are much better at turning their technical prowess into hard-hitting emotion, particularly when paired with high energy punk or metal.

Dog Shredder’s latest track “Shadow Deserts” is a shocking example of that. Both Alan Douches’ mastering and the outfit’s fast, D-Beat groove remind immediately of Converge, but trading out Jake Bannon’s divisive shriek for a more Keith Buckley vocal inflection. While the track’s bridge adds in surprising hooks that even the Black Keys and Queens of the Stone Age fans would dig, wrapped around some very real, non-persona lofty goals and Sisyphean passions of the masochistic kind: 

"Shadow Deserts"

Vocalist Joshua Holland explains: “[It's] about facing impossible challenges and embracing defeat. The character wanders through a wasteland with no chance of survival, facing an army of opposition only to be inevitably beaten and sent blindly back through the desert to die. It’s a pretty simple metaphor about growing through rejection and defeat. I know I can’t do this so why do I try? It’s too much. But I did it on purpose. I wanted to be…fed to the vultures. I wanted to die. Only after that comes strength and victory.”

The band’s forthcoming debut album is about “halfway” written and recorded, as the guys are trying out new material live “to see what sticks.” They won’t accept any ‘mediocre filler’, they say. So while it’ll “take some time,” they hope to have it finished by the end of 2013. Until then, check out their less hooky but solid previous EP, Brass Tactics. If you like rock music in any variety, particularly evocative of some sort of fury found on a kamikaze mission, or say the rising action of an episode of 300, you should definitely see them kill it on tour this fall with Red Fang, or at the Sunset Tavern tonight if you live in Seattle, where Dog Shredder fans have their own personas sometimes, as well, shares Holland:

“[This guy] stood right in front of me the whole show and kept his middle finger planted firmly as close to my face as possible. I ignored it, but of course that just made him want me to acknowledge him even more, so it just never ended. At the end of the set, I kinda snapped and picked up my pedal board and gave it to him. Let him do it, ya know? Afterwards he told me how much he loved the band (?) and was shortly 86′ed from the club for disruptive drunken behavior (not related to his finger or our music). People sometimes find odd ways of expressing themselves, I guess.”