Punk, hardcore, metal, noise: Music shouldn’t always be easy on the ears. Each month, Loud unearths some of the loudest, crudest, weirdest, and/or heaviest sounds writhing beneath the surface. The world’s not getting any quieter. Neither should we.
Album stream: Taake, Noregs Vaapen
Song debut: House Of Low Culture, “Inappropriate Body” (excerpt)
Song debut: Animals As Leaders, “Cylindrical Sea”
As prog-steeped and vocally accomplished as any band named after a Van Der Graaf Generator song ought to be, San Francisco’s Giant Squid has been toiling away in its own warped corner of the ocean for a few years now, plying an oddly lilting and lyrical style of post-metal. Cenotes, the group’s new album, doesn’t let itself drown in artiness, though; contorting harmony to the point of implosion—and then topping it off with some harrowing cello—the disc’s conceptual pressure stays even-keeled and accessible.
Former Swans member Jarboe has collaborated with everyone from Neurosis to Cobalt. Add Hull to that list of heavy-hitters. The Brooklyn outfit’s new full-length, Beyond The Lightless Sky, sports a couple guest appearances by Jarboe, who lends her eerie trill to some of the disc’s most atmospheric moments. Make no mistake, though: Hull has topped itself here, constructing a monolith of progressive sludge that belies its occasional flashes of hum and hush.
With so many well-intentioned yet generic retro-thrash bands around, Evile is a blessing. Time after time, the British group just nails it, mixing thrash tradition with skull-deforming savagery and graceful, microscopically precise playing. Five Serpent’s Teeth is no different; stuffed to the point of rupture with riffs Dave Mustaine would kill to be able to still deliver, the disc never fails to balance melody, technicality, and soulful aggression.
2011 has been the year of Profound Lore—and the label’s not letting a single month go by without delivering something worthwhile. This time around, it’s The Obsidian Plains by Wolvhammer. Dismiss this as yet another drop in the bucket of sludgy doom, and you’ll be missing out. Elemental, charred around the gills, and distorted the point of insensibility, Obsidian smokes more heavily than a Herman Cain staffer. Consider it Loud’s unofficial album of the month.
Earlier this year, Lake Of Blood delivered As Time And Tide Erode Stone, its two-very-long-songs saga. Structurally, Surachai’s To No Avail seems similar. Comprising a pair of 10-minute-plus tracks, the Chicago band’s new disc also traffics in sustained, Deathspell Omega-style blasts of bleakness and atonality. But unlike Lake Of Blood, Surachai rarely comes up for air, coasting instead on an acidic pall of negativity and noise. That’s a thumbs up, by the way.
Fresh off its long-delayed split LP with fellow metalgazer (sorry, the shoe fits) Rosetta, Junius has unleashed Reports From The Threshold Of Death. The ethereality oozes like congealed plasma out of this one; there’s an almost cathedral-like shiver to the disc’s jet-black majesty. The sweeping, melodramatic vocals of guitarist-keyboardist Joseph Martinez might be a bit much for some to take—imagine Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky crossed with Cold Cave’s Wes Eisold—but dude knows how to sell it.
I’m a sucker for punk vets slowing down and getting creepier. Hence my utter adoration of the self-titled debut by Alaric. The Bay Area supergroup features members of Dead And Gone, Noothgrush, and Cross Stitched Eyes (among others), but don’t expect to hear any of that in Alaric. Instead, the album navigates a loping, tribal, post-punk wasteland that calls to mind early-’80s fringe-dwellers like In Camera and Crawling Chaos—only crusted with hints of early Amebix.
Sometimes all you really need is a good flushing and scouring of the skull. Ottawa’s Fuck The Facts has long delivered such cranial colonics. Die Miserable, its long-awaited new full-length, doesn’t skimp on the caustic grit. But there’s an impressively oppressive gravity—not to mention a jabbering insanity—to the album’s stark, metallic hardcore that defies extrication.
On the other end of the punk spectrum, The Shitty Limits most definitely don’t exert anything resembling a gravitational pull. The band’s scratchy, garbled, sardonic Speculate/Accumulate is a full-on treble-fest, featuring a vicious, desperate death-surf twang and a load of artful, post-garage smarts that carry on the mostly forgotten tradition of The Fall, Alternative TV, and Zounds.
Total Abuse’s last album, Mutt, made my best-of list for 2010, thanks in part to the band’s unflinching worship of the trailblazing ’80s hardcore band, Void. But Total Abuse is a creature of its own design. The proof is in its latest, Prison Sweat, a gnarled, snarling onslaught of cracked bones and bruised dreams. It’s also far messier and weirder than Mutt, which is quite a perverse accomplishment. Then again, TA eat perversity for Sunday brunch.
Retro Loud: Void, Sessions 1981-83