Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Den - Bronze Fog (Retrograde Tapes, 2011)

When reading the description for Den’s Bronze Fog attached to the cassette, I expected this to be a slow-burner harsh noise/drone dirge (after all, who would’ve thought different after reading phrases like “shrill electronic abrasion”, “lifeless landscapes” and “nuclear winter jams”?). How pleasantly I was surprised when the cassette turned out to be filled to the brim with hi-energy stoner/noise/sludge/scum rock with hardcore punk leanings? The very first track, “Grindstone”, kicks you in the face with synth wails and maniacal drumming set to some of the most ridiculously low-tuned bass guitar I’ve ever heard. Fucking insane!
It only goes better from here: the second track, “Saint of Killers”, begins with distant siren-like synth sounds, waiting for the drums to kick and give way to a series of brutal sludge breakdowns set to a plodding rhythm, EyeHateGod style (down to the title). “The Ground” sounds like a bastard child of Boris’ “Ganbou-Ki” and the no wave Magik Markers at their vilest, down to the tireless drumming a’la Pete Nolan and droning, bassy, sustained guitar. “TDJ”, the shortest track on the cassette, is dinghy, dirty fuckin hardcore punk with a penchant for guitar tuned lowwwwwww.
Side B is more abstract and actually fitting to the album description attached. The only proper rock track is “SotU”, reaching nearly 7 minutes of hardcore stoner rock with a funky interlude when the acoustic guitar is played instead of an electric one. The three other tracks are dark synth soundscapes sounding like scattered, dying and abandoned radio transmissions in the post-apocalyptic world.
Den’s Bronze Fog is an ultra-energetic blowout, packing hard and hitting even harder. A fine debut by this Chicago label – looking forward to hear more, both by Den and by Retrograde Tapes. Fuckin’ A!

No comments: