It is a release which has no qualms in punishing the senses and venomously attacking the psyche with its irritable and grievous intent; an encounter seemingly hell bent on leaving charred remains behind in its vicious sonic wake but it is hard to return that enmity when every twisted trespass and grievous throe inflicted leaves you hungry for more. The perpetrator of that creative animosity is the Cry Havoc! EP from UK sludge punks Gutlocker, a quartet of visceral noise and groove breeders which you may fear liking but find no other option available.
Born and bred in darkest Woking, Gutlocker emerged in 2012 inspired by the likes of Pantera, Mastodon, and Lamb of God and have since gone on to share stages with the likes of Trepalium, Evil Scarecrow, and Raging Speedhorn among others and made a reputation enhancing appearance at Download. We will be honest, Cry Havoc! is our long overdue introduction to the quartet of vocalist Craig McBrearty, guitarist Peter Tucker, bassist Ben Rollinson, and drummer Dean Walker but possibly the perfect moment to be infested by their sonic animus.
The release opens up with Bitter Memory and immediately devours the senses with predacious riffs, merciless rhythms, and the vocal individuality of McBrearty. His rancorous tones twist and squirm by the syllable, a trespass as magnetic as the tempest of sludge metal bred sound around him. Grooves invade and beats rupture as the track parades its grudge carrying enterprise, a raw irritation spawn incitement which crawls deeper under the skin by the minute with its multi-flavoured sonic antipathy.
The great start evolves into the equally violent and compelling No Burden, a matching cauldron of hellacious noise and emotions cast in its own individual likeness. As in the first, there is a great hardcore insurgency lurking in the lining of the track’s prowl and adding to both the songs’ continued blossoming listen by listen. Unpredictability similarly adds to their prowess in music and voice if not to the same heights of our favourite track within Cry Havoc!
Stuck is simply superb, a web of creative deception and ingenuity never going where it suggests or expectations assume. Straight away it is weaving with cunning devilry and with vendetta in its veins, swaying away like a Pantera coaxed cobra as McBrearty spills his bad blooded venom. Captivating in seconds, addictive soon after, the track just outdoes itself minute by minute as guitars and bass collude in predacious imagination, its pinnacle coming as a bass and drum swagger ignites a manipulative noise rock discordance as fully catchy as it is unexpected.
As great as the other three are, the track steals the show but not before being worried by closing encounter, Welcome to Fucktown. As those before, it stalks and crawls over the senses sharing rancorous breaths and malignant invention matched in kind by the vocals. There is tension in every note and second, malice too especially oozing from McBrearty’s throat and heart, it all going to make the final song one fearsome but captivating incursion.
Uniqueness is still a relatively rare find within modern music but Gutlocker have a good handle on it already and are on the path to making it a key weapon.
Cry Havoc! is available now through most online stores.
Pete RingMaster 24/04/2018
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