Posts Tagged ‘D-Beat’

Orchestrated Dystopia – 1st October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Another release it’s taken me four months to review, and for no reason than that I’ve been utterly swamped and a little disorganised, both in terms of my time management and my thoughts. Such is the life of an unpaid music reviewer who stumbles in from working the day-job to be greeted by around twenty emails each evening and a bundle of CDs on the doormat, all demanding attention.

Somewhat ironically, this latest offering from Italian band Humus, purveyors of nasty metal noise, is one of the shortest releases – including singles – I’ve had come my way all year, with the running time for these four tracks totalling barely a fraction over five minutes.

We’re in authentically brutal, crusty, grindy d-beat metal territory here. The guitars a dirty, murky, churning mess, the drums a frenzied thousand-mile-an-hour tempest. The bass is all but lost in the frenetic, furious low-fi treble fest, while the vocals are all about that snarling, strangulated, torn-throat demonic rage, the sound of one of Satan’s minions gargling nitric acid while dancing over hot coals en route to a purgatorial abyss.

It’s dark, the sound of burning rage, a blurring welter of relentless noise. Keeping the songs savagely short and the production mercilessly raw, it’s everything you would want from a band who trade in thrashcore crustpunk.

 

Humus

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Southern Lord – 26th August 2016

James Wells

Southern Lord continue to excavate the underground for the gnarliest, angriest, most brutal, most frenetic metal with this, the latest album from Bay Area, CA hardcore act Lies. The CD version of Plague is bulked out by their debut release, the EP Abuse. So we’re being treated to 15 tracks in all, but given that the longest of those fifteen tracks, ‘Class War’ is a mere minute and fifty-three seconds in duration, it still amounts to a mere twenty minutes and four seconds of music. Yes, it would probably fit on a 7”, and most other bands’ EPs are longer.

But this is all about keeping it focused, keeping it tight. The short tracks condense everything into fireballs of explosive intensity. There’s no room for gratuitous solos, muso meanderings or even time to breathe. This is claustrophobically taut and relentlessly violent. That isn’t to say there’s a lack of detail or nuance: behind the blur of noise there are some brilliant guitar lines and a good variety of sounds on top of the thousand-mile-an-hour rhythm section.

Given the impenetrability of the lyrics, it’s not easy to determine their exact political leanings through song titles like ‘White Light’, ‘Paranoia’, ‘All Hail’ and ‘Human Nature’, but they’ve played a benefit gig in support of the Homeless Youth Alliance and it seems reasonable to assume their white-hot rage is directed at the system, and the injustices it propagates. They’re the good guys – they just sound nasty. Very nasty indeed.

 

Lies

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