偏執症者 – Satyagraha

Posted: 2 July 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Southern Lord – 10th June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

For the uninitiated, 偏執症者 translates as ‘Paranoid’. But despite the logographic characters, 偏執症者 are, in fact, Swedish, although their brand of full-on, fiery, D-beat hardcore punk is heavily influenced by Japanese noise. Satyagraha, first released in 2015, is their first full-length album. Full-length is relative and contextual, of course: with ten tracks and a combined running time of under twenty-eight minutes, it’s shorter than the majority of individual tracks on the latest Swans album. Of course, this squally, thrashy mess of noise exists in an entirely different realm from the new Swans album, and in many ways stands at the very opposite end of the spectrum of antagonistic noise.

The impact of the album relies on its frenetic, breakneck speed, and its relentlessness. Satyagraha does not offer texture or range: it’s an all-out assault, and the album’s primary objective is to slam everything home at full tilt, optimal speed and maximum volume. It’s no bad thing, and it certainly works for them. It’s an album that begins as it continues, with the blistering wall of noise that is ‘Kaihou’. The guitar sound is so mangled, distorted, metalicised and trebled up to the max that it sounds more like power electronics than anything from the rock side of the musical spectrum. It’s an obscene, brutal assault, relentless, remorseless, unforgiving.

The vocals on ‘Bouryoku’ are hollering, screaming, blind with rage, are spewed forth into an infinite cavern of reverb, while the guitars fire so hot they could strip paint. From amidst the squalling bluster of noise, a guitar solo emerges. The shrieking feedback and dense mass of treble on ‘Shisuru Sekai, Iki Jigoku is the sound of a new kind of punishment, before the thunderous drums and bass – for the first time apparent on the album – ratchet up to demolition to the power of ten on ‘Shihaisya’. This is one to play loud.

The final track – by far the album’s longest – sounds like an entirely different band and entirely different album, the soft, analogue instrumental belonging to another world. And yet it works and curiously, it fits, revealing a very different facet of the band, and one which is not unpleasant: quite the opposite, in fact, and it serves to soothe the senses in the wake of the punishment inflicted by the nine preceding tracks. As if the brute force of those tracks weren’t already enough to separate 偏執症者 from their peers, then this truly clinches it, concluding a devastating album in intriguing style.

It’s one hell of an album, and one absolutely hellish album. Visceral and intense, even by D-beat standards, Satyagraha qualifies as an essential work.

Paranoid

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