Madness doesn't arrive all at once. Many fictional works portray a sudden slip into insanity, a snap of the brain which results in a clearly unsound mind. The truth is often more nuanced than that. Troubles creep into a mind inch by inch, quietly, unnoticed. Sudden realisations are few and far between. Indeed, it's only when a mind is firmly mired in madness that the realisation comes that all is not well.
Racial Golf Course No Bitches, the debut album from Hackney noiseniks Dethscalator, is that slithering descent given form. It all starts off on familiar, albeit unsteady, ground. However, by the time you're at the end of its 34 minutes, you've been dragged through a disturbing and often incomprehensible aural journey.
Musically, the album's ingredients are laid out in very first song 'Black Percy'. Downtuned guitars, heavily distorted vocals and sludgy riffs drive out an insistent mantra. It's a sledgehammer attack, to be sure, but one that's clearly been refined in the live arena.
As Racial Golf Course No Bitches continues, however, the structures gradually sink into a sea of discordant chaos. 'Midnight Feast's occasional riff acts almost like driftwood, bobbing up occasionally and offering something to cling to - only to be submerged as soon as you get a hand onto it. By album closer 'Pine Pot', any pretense of a traditional song has long since degenerated into the musical equivalent of rolling around a padded room, coupled with incomprehensible screaming.
This album has been five years in the making, and it's undeniably impressive. If charting the course of mental decline was the band's aim, they've succeeded. Indeed, like their contemporaries Hey Colossus's recent album Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo (reviewed here) it could be even seen as one of a new wave of sludge metal concept albums.
Unlike that album, though, the balance is off. Dethscalator's descent into deconstructed noise is too quick, too eager: it's more of a heedless pursuit, and too quick to abandon the listener as a result. The lack of conventional reference points means It's almost impossible to stay involved, with the outcome that more often than not you tune out. Perhaps next time a little less madness might result in a more powerful and engaging record.
6Kev Eddy's Score