The third full-length from New York noise-rock trio A Place To Bury Strangers, ‘Worship’, packs an almighty sonic punch from the off, but for an album from a band who pride themselves on their ear-decimating levels of decibels, there are some surprisingly gentle stop-off points. Dabbling in a vast ocean of effects and electronics, APTBS have themselves a sound here that’s difficult to match, even if it’s sometimes difficult to establish.
There’s plenty of noise to choose from. Opener ‘Alone’ is dominated by drum and bass, with the distortion-drenched bass of Dion Lunadon (formerly of New Zeleand rockers, The D4) driving the song with more than just a bit of force. The album’s title-track is another one that causes the listener to wince when it bombards its way through the speakers, with Oliver Ackermann‘s guitar sounding like the quiet kid in the corner of the room compared to Lunadon‘s bruiser of a tone. Yet, for all the band’s presence, Ackermann cuts a perhaps surprisingly subdued figure when it comes to vocals. Never straying too far from an ‘indoor voice’, his voice contrasts with the cacophony beneath to evoke a tenderness and vulnerability. ‘Fear’ showcases the contrast well and even takes on a soft approach before being swallowed by volume by the time the final chords buzz.
It’s the restrained moments that gives the album dynamism, rather than just being something loud for the sake of being something loud. ‘Dissolved’ starts downbeat and atmospheric (thanks to the reverb-heavy guitars) before moving into a Joy Division-esque second half that stands above some of the more fuzz-intensive works.
‘Slide’ is another loud one, but there’s surprisingly little making up the soundscape. A drum-n-bass influenced rhythm section is coated with some effects laden guitars, but it still sounds thin despite the overpowering mix. Pulsating closer ‘Leaving Tomorrow’ is some post-punk bliss, hurtling along with an almost unrecognisable guitar in the sidecar. ‘Revenge’ easily matches it with some pulsing, electrifying sound and relentless rhythm.
There are times when everything gets lost in the mix and the listen becomes noise, rather than Noise, but on the whole the album manages to stay on the tracks and not lose itself to volume. It’s a demanding listen that rarely relinquishes its grasp on your attention due to its full-on nature. While at times may not warrant that attention, on the whole it’s adrenalin-pumping stuff that’s more than worth a spin. Not one for the quiet types.
Written by Ryan Williams
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