Posts Tagged ‘Uniform’

Sacred Bones – 20th January 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Nasty’ is a word you’re likely to hear or read in relation to dark, gnarly, mangled black metal or crust punk, or perhaps some particularly unpopulist industrial effort, or some particularly savage techno. But on Wake In Fright Uniform offer something that’s a different kind of nasty. And yes, it really is nasty, brutal, savage, uncompromising and unfriendly. And while there are elements of metal, thrash, industrial and power electronics, Wake in Fright – described as ‘a harrowing exploration of self-medication, painted in the colors of war’ – throws down the challenge of a noise all of its own.

Preview cut ‘Tabloid’ doesn’t so much open the album as tear the lid off the thing in a squalling, brutal frenzy. The drums are pitched to a frenetic pace but largely buried under the snarling, churning mess of guitars, feedback and distortion. Michael Berdan sneers and hollers venomously like he’s in the throes of mania, and to describe it as raw would be an understatement. It’s still on the bone and walking around. A gnarly mash of early Head of David, Foetus, Godflesh and the most obscure hardcore punk demo tape you’ve ever heard, it’s anything but easy on the ear. It is, however, a real blast of adrenaline, not so much a smack around the mouth as a succession of steel-toed boot jabs to the ribs.

The earthmoving bass grind of ‘Habit’ is coupled with the dirtiest, dingiest guitar noise you’ll hear all year. ‘The Lost’ combines the harsh edge of late 80s Ministry with an old-school punk feel, New Order trampled under the boots of a thousand-strong army of brutalists. It’s a stroll in the park compared to the thousand-mile-an-hour rage explosion that follows in the shape of ‘The Light At the End (Cause)’, which is nothing short of brutal, a black metal assault. There’s nowhere to take refuge with this album: cover your face, the blows land in the ribs, the back, the legs. Uniform are fucked off, and are going to vent their unremitting ire on anything, everything, and everyone.

The most striking thing about this album – short as it is, with just eight tracks and a total running time of thirty-eight and a bit minutes, (aside from its eye-popping intensity, that is) is its diversity. ‘The Killing of America’ is a full-tilt industrial metal slogger which evokes the spirit of Psalm 69, and packs a truly wild guitar breaks. The tempo is off the scale, to, and th third most striking thing about Wake in Fright is its sustained attack. There’s no let up. Not even for a second. Just when you think there might be a moment’s respite, the buggers up the tempo and the volume and the fierceness by at least another ten per cent. By ‘Bootlicker’ (track six), it’s all reached an almost unbearable level of noise, as the drums pound like machine gun fire through a gut-churning barrage of guitars. Seriously, with Wake in Fright, Uniform make Strapping Young Lad sound like Mike Flowers Pops.

Curtain closer ‘The Light At the End (Effect)’ may slow the pace at last, but the murky Swans-like dirge, with its scratched spoken narrative, remains anything but an easy exit or an uplifting finale. It’s six minutes of postindustrial grind, and a fitting close to an album that comes out, fists flailing, whirling chains and spitting venom.

Don’t come to Uniform looking for a hug. Wake in Fright is utterly terrifying, a horrorshow of a record with not a moment of calmness or humanity. It’s horrifying, squalid, beyond harsh: a sonic kick to the gut. You bet it’s already one of my albums of the year.

 

Uniform - Wake in Fright

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New York City duo Uniform turn the spotlight to their second full length album, Wake In Fright, upcoming on 20th January 2017 via Sacred Bones – a harrowing exploration of self-medication, painted in the colours of war.

Following their Ghosthouse 12" released last month, vocalist Michael Berdan (ex Drunkdriver, York Factory Complaint) and guitarist/producer Ben Greenberg (ex-The Men, Hubble) return with a new batch of even more punishing songs that incorporate elements of industrial music, thrash metal, harsh noise, and power electronics.

This record is primarily about psychic transition,” Berdan explained. “The distress that these songs attempt to illustrate comes from a place of stagnation and monotony. This is what happens when old ways of thinking become exhausted and old ways of coping prove ineffective. Something must change or it will break.”

 

Listen to ‘Tabloid’ here:

If the rest of the album’s half as good, it’ll be a belter.

Uniform are old friends Ben Greenberg (ex-The Men, Hubble, and the producer/engineer responsible for much of the Sacred Bones catalog) and Michael Berdan (ex Drunkdriver, York Factory Complaint) and formed in New York City in 2013.

To coincide with the 28th October release of their Ghosthouse EP (which has scored Aural Aggravation’s vote), they’ve unveiled their cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Symptom of the Universe’.

Get your lugs round it here…

Sacred Bones – 28th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

They don’t make 12” EPs like they used to. While I was never big on the idea of packing a piece of wax out with remixes or an extended mix alongside the single version on a throwaway B-side, at its best, the format offered the punter an additional track over a 7” and larger artwork. But they haven’t really made records like that since the mid 90s or thereabouts.

Uniform’s Ghosthouse is a 12” in the style of the 12” EPs of old. And it’s a fucking belter, if you like dark, pulsating, intense noise. Early Godflesh make a reasonable comparison when it comes to this NYC duo’s uncompromising guitar and drum-machine assault, but the dingy punk din of Head of David and 90s noisemakers Headcleaner are also fair reference points.

The intense throb of the title track calls to mind Suicide with its primitive metronomic thudding beat and grating bass loop, but with a screaming lo-fi metal edge. Shards of feedback pierce the murk.

‘Waiting Period’ sounds like it’s coming from a long way away. Not so much lo-fi as no-fi, the production is more concerned with actually getting the track down on tape than making it pretty. the sound levels waver all over and the drums bounce around in a riot of reverb, while the guitars buzz in bursts of treble and the gnarled vocals… well, it’s anyone’s guess really, but the end result is something that sounds like a hardcore Dr Mix and the Remix – messy, but in a good way.

The final track, ‘Symptom of the Universe’ stamps the Unifrm sound on the Sabbath track, and amalgamates the grinding industrial metal fury of Ministry with the freneticism of Dead Kennedys – which, put another way, means it sounds a fair bit like Lard. With hollered vocals reverberating over a descending minor chord sequence and a guitar sound that’s pure overload, it hits optimal chuggage instantly. It’s crisp, sharp-edged and dangerous, and culminates in a full-on sonic supernova of mangled noise.

 

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