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(38:35; Pelagic Records)
Back with their fourth album, Wellington-based sextet are a group probably best known for supporting the likes of both Neurosis and The Ocean, and here they are with possibly their most distorted, driven metallic album yet. Here we have a band containing multi-instrumentalists, who often swap around between songs, who also feel the visual aspect is as important as the music. The line-up is Zach Meech (drums, guitar, vocals), Alex Ross (bass), Donnie Cuzens (guitar, synth), Callum Gay (guitar, drums, vocals, synth), Ben Dentice (guitar) and Max Telfer (visuals), and here they have produced something which explodes in the brain, massively over the top and all encompassing. Their last album, 2017’s ‘People Used To Live Here’ created an atmosphere of quiet desolation, raw and real, desperate and unsettling: the post-apocalyptic soundtrack to abandoned places, where people used to live, at one point in time, long ago. “Since we started work on PUtLH years ago we knew the album would need a follow-up that was radically different- almost spitefully different- if only to utterly refuse any trite suggestion that we might be “maturing” or mellowing out with time“, Gay explains. “We’d written the song ‘Self Destroyer’ (off ‘Empty Body’) somehow concurrently with the early PUtLH demos and it had a sense of momentum to it that immediately engaged us. Once that energy was there it was an obvious choice for the next record, compressing our intuitive emotive peaks into raw forward motion. We all wrote collectively with the new focus in mind.“ Distortion, feedback, fuzz, incredibly heavy guitars in a wall of sound, this is a brutal album which refuses to take any prisoners whatsoever. While Neurosis are obviously a major influence, there are also elements of Devin Townsend and some of the heavier black metal acts, all mixed together in a post rock bleakness. This is incredibly powerful stuff, something which dominates the eardrums, and I found that it is an album I have to play on headphones as it is the only way to truly get the volume this deserves. Bass heavy, with synths which do nothing to lighten proceedings, this is guitar driven with drums that just manage to cut through the morass. It is a blanket of darkness, shutting out the light, and creating a world where nothing else exists apart from the sound. Even when they di provide some lightness in “Watermark”, it is only light in comparison to everything else on the album, and the pain in the vocals and delicately picked guitar makes me think of something walking around after the nuclear bomb has exploded, covered in dust and in shock. It is hard to describe in words what an epic sounding album this is, as while there are plenty of guitars there are pounding drums and New Order-style bass which take this to a whole new level. I am catching these guys in concert later this year, but until then I know this is going to be a regular visitor to my deck.
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