Listening to Born Into Rags To Die No Richer, the new album from UK corrupters Dead Harts, is like being lashed until your synapses bleed and shrivel up then being given a sonic salt enema to those same open wounds. It is painful, it is blistering, it is maybe for some a violation too far, but it is equally fulfilling. Not for the faint hearted and where anger and spite are as devastating as a raging fire, the release just throws one into a tempest of malice and aggression driven by pleasure and satisfaction, for them and the listener.
The Sheffield based quintet certainly takes no prisoners or deals in elements of mercy, their mix of hardcore/punk/metal vehemence permeating every syllable and note for the deepest abrasive intrusion. Founded in late 2009 and influenced by the likes of The Chariot, Norma Jean, and Gwen Stacy, the band has continually left a lingering mark in its wake, whether from playing alongside bands such as The Rhino, Heights, and While She Sleeps, recently taking Red Bull Jam apart and being the first of three finalists voted through to the live final this year, or their just completed highly successful tour of Russia. This is a band which musically refuses to take no for an answer, their sounds demand and receive, whether that is in kind or adulation.
Released through Transcend Music, the album rips the jugular apart from the off with the excellent All Washed Up. It is a relatively gentle first 10 seconds, a piece of misdirection before a sonic hand tears the barriers down and violently ignites the passions with venomous intent and caustic endeavour. Guitarists Josh Ward and Matt Pask manipulate and finger the senses with twisted riffs and scorched melodic incursions whilst vocalist Matthew Baxendale smoulders in his own acidic bile to unleash destructive squalls upon the ear. It is harsh and it is nasty but it only leaves a glowing grateful victim. Musically the band, song, and album come over as a sort of cross between Architects, While She Sleeps, and Gacys Thread, not necessarily something to rip the same size of hole in invention like it does in the ear, but certainly it is one of the freshest and ultimately enjoyable devastations to come along this year.
Smoke Wagons, the already recipient of acclaim through its video, storms with rage and intensity next. The drums of John Timson disorientate with craft and malice whilst bassist Zach McAdam prowls with all the belligerence of a wounded bear behind the again hypnotic and incendiary guitar strikes. It makes for a welcome yet vicious combat, a confrontation as wholly gratifying as it is corrosive and dehabilitating. As the song proves, Dead Harts do not create songs just with the intent of punishing and bringing the world to its knees either sonically or lyrically, they are also conjurations of songwriting which twist and turn with invention and enterprise, something which again makes the band feel different and fresh compared to many others of the same intention.
CTRL ALT Defeat and Perm Back And Sides both impressively rampage with riffs to send one staggering backwards before their sonic winds buckle the knees, both arguably less intensive in their open aggression but as extreme in passion and its deliverance, whilst Crooks is outrage given a mighty aural form. The track is raw energy and just as unpolished emotion, a crushing indictment to leave deep scars.
After the instrumental Interlude, Headhunter bears down on the senses from a great sonic height, its oppressive tone and insatiable hunger a sonic rape upon the ear but again most welcome and fully rewarding. It is a furnace of malicious invention which leaves the body shaking, ears ringing, and thoughts splattered against the remains of a skull crushed by the intensity. It is a brilliant challenge which leaves the closing track Caesar some task to follow. It does with ease of course, its disruptive array of undulating riffs and waspish sonics an unpredictable and mesmeric erosion to fall before with pleasure.
Born Into Rags To Die No Richer is a testing and wearing release but also one which leaves an undeniably pleasing smarting behind, a feeding sore glow from a band in Dead Harts, who show no reserve in letting out all their pent up anger and creative spite for our pleasure.
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