Monday, February 3, 2014
Ex Nuns on 25 Diamonds Records
It was a sad day when I heard that Hydra Head had decided to shut it's doors. Out of nowhere this label that had introduced me singlehandedly to so many great bands like Isis, Boris and Pelican couldn't make it worth it to keep the lights on anymore? I guess when you read all those lazy stories in Newsweek about the return of vinyl ( I literally made that up, but here it is), it still isn't nearly enough to actually make a living. I only started thinking about Hydra Head because of this latest single from Ex Nuns on 25 Diamonds Records. Ex Nuns would easily fit into that catalog and 25 Diamonds is just the sort of label gong after wildly divergent sounds would snap up this precise post punk with distant roots in shoegaze. Turns out after their previous project, Heirloom, broke up they continued to write dense, static layered-gaze material but eventually scrapped it. They kept the most intense parts that presumably made their way into these two tracks in the form of hardcore post punk.
Maybe that's the weird edge to A-Side's "Dead of Zero" along with the completely insane snare roll from Jeff Truckenmiller his always fast hyper tempo able to include a heavy dynamic in the range of hits; the hard hard hard soft ratatat of this beating doesn't let up. Cymbals crash non stop while higher pitch screeching distortions from multiple guitars roll in like some kind of gritty pop Explosions in the Sky or Jesu. Ian on vocal's is half harmonizing with the higher pitch guitar tones with a content delivery that's almost it's own noise against this crazy speed rock. Jeff makes is determined to be the hardest working guy in this act. Where everyone else is harmonizing with feedback and crunchy distortion tones he had to go and ruin his kit in double time consistently raising the energy and stakes on this post rock. Towards the end of this track I appreciate the play on reverb, with a wet bounce that's loud as hell against these perfectly captured chords of power. Those upper stratospheric melodies make this something other than the thick punk that it should be. It's a massive epic sound that doesn't rest on the plateaus of This Will Destroy You or Mono but delivers it all as if things were already in full crumble, the city, those huge skyscrapers are coming down around you and they just have three minutes to get this track down. It's not going to change the destruction, it's just one of those things you have to do anyway.
B-Side's "Crash Meditation" opens on a low end distortion or fuzzy bass line running that one note straight off a cliff. A higher end is out there like some kind of siren call you can't quite place... where exactly is this high pitch bagpipe sound coming from? Jeff on drums immediately forces this into a higher gear and Ian is deep set into the mix not even attempting to fight with the rest of the instrumentation, secure to be the conscience of the track, the muddy, abstract conscience. Heavily melodic guitars keep this out of the usual punk or heavy hardcore, thanks to a heavy hand of control. They manage to pile sound into every possible crevice without that dense or heavy feeling keeping this light on it's feet. It doesn't even have to stop on a dime lacking any sort of inferiority complex.
Get this on dark brown/green, sludge color vinyl from 25 Diamonds Records.