22nd April 2016
When members of Pulled Apart By Horses and God Damn are bigging up your band, you’ve got to be doing something right – if you’re on the market for something gnarly, guitar-led and tripping on the wild side, that is.
‘Rack and Ruin’ picks up where their last EP, Son of the Flies left off, with ‘Lizardbrain’, which features on the latter now appearing on the full-length. It’s everything you’d expect from a band who have a track called ‘Fuck Off Brian Eno’: don’t come looking for anything mellow or ambient or even remotely melodic here. But if you’re after a sonic kick in the nuts, that’s a different matter altogether. Welcome…
A buzzsaw guitar slews in against a low-slung, thunderous bass groove to cut an angular racket on the album’s opener, ‘Pound of Flesh’. Tense, and not without a dash of mania and a cocksure sleaze, it grinds and yelps and chops and before you know it, they’re assailing your cranium with the squalid ‘Say What You Want’. ‘Machinery’, the sole track culled from their Bad Jack & Other Stories is less of a standout and more of a rime contributor to the album’s density and the relentlessness of the assault.
The heavily rhythmic ‘No Way Back’ and ‘Snake Oil’ with its epic trudging beat slow the pace but increase the force of the attack amidst desert guitars and squalling feedback. Elsewhere, ‘The Priest’ is a collision of old-school goth and blistering noise rock. It’s not pretty. It isn’t supposed to be.
The production’s suitably murky, and there are hints of the 90s underground which seems to be re-emerging now, about ‘Rack and Ruin’. Forgotten cult acts like Headcleaner and Jacob’s Mouse collide with elements of Shellac and Gallon Drunk to create a swaggering, big-bollocked mess of noise (as is fitting for an album housed in a sleeve with more cocks and balls than you can count), and as such, they stand alongside contemporaries like Blacklisters.
It isn’t all noise as such – there are some skewed pop moments lurking beneath the sludge – but every track teeters gleefully on the brink of maniacal catastrophe. With guitars set to stun and their sensibilities attuned to the back-catalogue of labels like Sub Pop and Touch ‘n’ Go, Rack and Ruin is nasty indeed. It’s also fucking belting.