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Melt Downer – Melt Downer

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Melt Downer - s/tFor Melt Downer‘s first release, they have chosen to issue a gorgeous double album in a subtle Technicolor sleeve. From the outside, it promises much and I am pleased to say that it delivers like an overloaded cargo plane, crashing through your neighbourhood, scaring the hell out of families quietly watching television and setting dogs barking and sirens screaming.

They are only a trio but your ears could be forgiven for assuming there are twice that number, skewering you with post-hardcore volume and bass-heavy rumblings. Interestingly, the decision to issue a double LP has worked well as the two records are diametric opposites and it is fantastic to think that both these sounds came from one band.

The first record has eleven tracks squeezed onto it and they cover all sorts of ground. The manic pace of the clattering post-punk drums of “Junkakademy” is aided and abetted by the cool, snarling vocals of the singer. His delivery has a snotty self-assurance that becomes a scream when the chorus arrives and the Sonic Youth-like guitars are swooping and swerving all around as if tying to dodge having their necks wrung by the guitarist. The bluesy plod of “RAVE”, with its sweet slide guitar is a little calmer in comparison — until they are mugged halfway through as the guitars are slammed up to ten and attempt to drill into your cranium.

So I am there thinking, so far, so post-hardcore; it sounds a little like Minor Threat at times — and suddenly the wind is taken from my sails and the pace slows right down to a meander through snake territory for the seven minute “Patterns In Random Data”. The guitar is striking like a warning bell as the sweet and slippery bass is smothered with cymbal overgrowth. It feels clogged and sweaty in this bass-led wilderness until the guitar comes in like a scythe hacking its way through the spiralling tension and working its way out into the aether.

The nice thing is that they can really hit a psychedelic groove if they allow themselves time and opportunity and on “The Leisure Death”, they do just that, tying it to wall of fuzz just in case you were becoming a little to comfortable. Side two’s opener “Sri Lanka” is where they throw everything at their disposal into the mix. I love a nine-minute track and if the guitar sounds a bit like a sax or like record scratching, there is some sort of Eastern reed instrument, the landscape is bass-heavy and toward the end we have Goat-like scattered vocals, then I am happy. The fact that it is hypnotic to the point of losing your mind, and towards the end scattershot keys are doing their best to put off the rhythm only adds to it. By the time side two ends with the sound of At The Drive-in setting fire to a trolley bus and pushing it off a cliff, you are in need of a rest.

You cannot really be prepared for the second disc though. Imagine Earth with ADHD for half an hour and you are partway there. The tempo is leaden and when you flip the record a few minutes in, it becomes even more leaden, if that were possible. This is seriously molten and remorseless. Along the way, the band do try to sabotage things; shining keyboard flurries, disturbed guitar garglings, spacey yelps and echoing acidic specks abound, but they can do nothing to upset the lumbering behemoth — and when it finally staggers to a crawl, it still doesn’t know when to end. The four-beat shriek of a tortured guitar finally breaks its back and the whole thing collapses into a buzzing death rattle. By then you have been sucked right in to Melt Downer’s twisted world and they have you at their mercy.

Who knew Austria had this in their arsenal? Let us hope they come to visit soon, as this is one band I would love to see live. But for now, buy the record or the CD. I mean, it’s for your own good after all.

-Mr Olivetti-

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