Salfordian psychedelic noise rockers GNOD have been around for 15 years now. They have built up a loyal following across a discography that comprises 14 or so albums and numerous collaborations with artists like João Pais Filipe, BNSU, and Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick, acquiring a reputation for providing a formidable, unpredictable, and inimitable live experience in the process. ‘La Mort Du Sens’ is their first non-collaborative studio album since ‘Chapel Perilous’ (2018), and one of the best albums they have released to date.
I promised myself I wouldn’t fill this review up with superlatives, but it will be difficult since this is some of the best music I’ve heard by anyone in quite some time. Over the course of five songs and just over half an hour, GNOD demonstrate on ‘La Mort Du Sens’ that they have lost none of their talent for knowing when to keep things tight and when to loosen things up. Indeed, in terms of their body of work, this album may well ultimately stand up as the one on which they perfected the art of deploying these two opposing disciplines.
Songs like opener ‘Regimental’ recall the interplay between guitars and bass that GNOD achieved so well on ‘Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine’ (2017). The bassline has a steady, almost droning rhythm to it which persists throughout ‘The Whip and the Tongue’ and ‘Town’, but the guitars nevertheless soar over this and build to an enjoyably cacophonous noise at around the five-minute mark. Lyrically, themes that dominate the album seem to be confusion and anger; it was apparently recorded between Christmas 2019 and spring 2020, spanning ‘the before times’ and lockdown. The mood induced by the latter period’s restrictions is (consciously or unconsciously) evoked by frontman Paddy Shine as he angrily yells “they lay down the law” on ‘Town’. Possibly as a retort to the times in which we currently live, Shine roars “get fucked” on lead single ‘Pink Champagne Blues’, the fastest song on the album by far.
However, the true piece de resistance on ‘La Mort Du Sens’ is closing track ‘Giro Day’. On this song, GNOD achieve a perfect synthesis of the talent for spaceyness they displayed on ‘Chaudelande’ (2013) with the punk-inspired tightness and fury with which they played the material on ‘Just Say No…’. These two tendencies within the band’s output have, over the course of their discography, tended to pull them in opposing directions, but they manage to do both things equally well within this one song. It opens with ominous drumming and chanting before the entire band locks into this grinding rhythm that recalls early Swans and Shine screams “sex, death” terrifyingly. At over 12 minutes, it’s the only track on ‘La Mort Du Sens’ that gives the listener a taste of GNOD’s long-established aptitude for crafting expansive, droney soundscapes, and admirers of these aspects of the band’s music won’t be left disappointed. It is an epically noisy conclusion to an awe-inspiring album.
‘La Mort Du Sens’ is GNOD’s best album of recent times. They have eschewed the esoteric elements of albums like ‘Faca De Fogo’ (2020) and combined the heaviness of ‘STUBNITZ’ (2020) with the angry punk tightness of ‘Just Say No…’. It is possibly their angriest album yet, the band’s rage at the world in which it was written and recorded audible in Shine’s vocal delivery. It is definitely their tightest album, with an adherence to relatively conventional song structures helping to convey the lyrical themes. It would serve as a good entry point to the band’s back catalogue for noise rock fans unfamiliar with their work. ‘La Mort Du Sens’ is the best album of 2021 so far in my opinion, and confirms GNOD’s position as the UK’s heaviest and most consistently innovative psychedelic noise rock band. It is available via Rocket Recordings now. Order it here.