All words to describe how many of us have felt since May 7th 2015 as the forces of capitalism got a huge nose full of ‘fuck you’ powder as our communities and services are dismantled to make way for a frenzy of corporate greed. Meanwhile those in charge demonise the poor for ‘scrounging’ while patriotically sticking their money in offshore funds which they themselves have made legal. Our society is fucked up and while the revitalised left has had small victories nothing it seems can halt the jack-booted march of the capitalist system.
Salford collective GNOD were touring at the time of the last election, and have written and produced an album that is replete with these feelings. It is an album that is a heavy as fuck. An album that is so angry in a way that while it is not exactly controlled, neither is it chaotic. It is an album of concentrated minds, not the open vistas of last year’s triple ‘Infinity Machines’, but a cogent and concise outburst which enflames the mind and chills the soul. It is an an album of revolution, and an album that seems not only to be on the edge of some very dark mental places…but also tips into them.
“There are too many faces inside the mirror/ that I cannot decide which one I’ll be today”, sings Paddy Shine at the start of the the title track amid a cacophony of dub bass and distorted feedback…”breakdown”…and then away on a ride that is both enthralling and troubling. This is the 21st Century Schizoid Man writ large…a contemporary reflection on the fragmenting of society and personality. The track is like a spiral into an abyss as each key change leads us further into the pit of despair, into the dance beyond the edge of sanity…driven and riven, and finally disintegrating into a doom-laden riff.
Which is where ‘Learn to Forgive’ begins. The angular riff and angry vocal provide the response to the despair and hopelessness of the previous track. A huge heavy and foreboding track it takes depression and disintegration, and sticks it in your face again and again and again and again. It is a track that pummels you in the way that Bong pummel you… but then GNOD pick you up and pummel you again, the relentlessness hitting you repeatedly…there is no escape from it…and it seems to me that that is the point. The is no escape unless you switch it off, but where is the switch? You or the system…which is extinguished first?
Beginning with ritualistic chanting, ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ sounds etherial until Paddy Shine utters the words ‘escape is now deafening’ and the relentlessness kicks in again. The atmosphere sours, we are now not only on the edge of mental breakdown but society itself is disappearing into the pit, the pit of secret societies and unseen influences. Once again the relentlessness of the the music is hugely enticing; a siren call into the catastrophe. Yet there is also something repulsive about it, an intrinsic warning of the deadly forces that lay below the surface. When they come back after around eight minutes, you realise that that ritualistic chanting is actually something else. It is the sound of chaos, the sound of our being sucked into the quick sand of our society and of our own multiple personalities: a lime-filled swamp of our own making. As the mayhem of the uncompromising and inexorably ferocious music kicks in again, slower and heavier than before you can feel the anger and helplessness reaching out…but we don’t pull anyone up.
This is an important album by an important band on an important label (Rocket Recordings). Along with Teeth of the Sea’s ‘Highly Deadly Black Tarantula‘ this is an album that is chronicling the troubled nature of our times in a way that few other bands even approach. It is the sort of music that we hope not to hear, and yet it is vital that we do. For me this if GNOD’s clearest and most coherent statement yet. It is powerful and to the point, and we ignore it at our peril!
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.