Aaaaaargh! Sometimes you need a little petrol thrown on a fire. Bellrope who rose from the ashes of Black Shape of Nexus (yeah I stole that from the PR blurb –fight me!) are dropping their debut “You Must Relax”. They open with “Hollywood 2001/Rollrost” which is one of those tracks that used to make my guts turn to ice and my feet move quicker than Mick Harris on Napalm’s debut, when I was using my iPod on shuffle to fill DJ at events in the early noughties. I can imagine being the other side of a gargantuan multi level venue in which I am supposed to be pumping out background pleasantries to hear harsh noise and pained screams reverberating over ear piercing electronics. Fuck! These four chaps from Mannheim have piqued my interest early doors.
“Old Overholt” is as groovy as it is abrasive. Harsh distorted vocals screamed over big riffs and rib crushing bass. Dirty basement dwelling hardcore sludge noise played by kidnap victims gone rogue and now tormenting their captors. The sound these guys make feels like it could come with a prescription for tranquilizers. Like Old Man Gloom and Iron Monkey had a filthy primate chimera! It’s ten minutes long! It doesn’t quit! Bellrope have two bass guitarists one drummer and one guitarist. A filthy sludge noise band with two basses, Let that sink in and prepare your ribs and stereo speakers!
The title track is even more mammoth than its predecessor. The gravel throated command “You must relax” is more threat than call for mindfulness and contemplation. Like a really angry Hawkwind who has been in a Russian prison for 5 years. As it burrows further into my brain like the space worm in wrath of Khan the vocals alternate between bellows and hideous rasped cries. Chopped up samples and elastic sounding electronics just add to the maelstrom. Somehow it always comes back to pummelling drums and crushing riffs as if the edges of madness are bludgeoned back into place by the might of the musical base.
“TD200” which follows see Exile on Mainstream label mates Treedeon lend Arne Heesch and Yvonne Ducksworth adding dual vocals. It is another fine beast of a track. Samples and feedback jump hirsute and naked over a groove that makes me want to cavort in a forest. Primal , tribal , shamanic , hedonistic abandonment with some back masked samples too. Diigning it like Spears and Jackson.
“CBD/Hereinunder” is 18 minutes long. Approach with caution. You gotta strap yourself into this bastard and hold on. Batshit psychedelia fed through bath tub meth noise and post punk guitar lines a la Gang of Four this is a trip through a record collection with a madman or woman at the helm. Last stop drone and eternal bliss/damnation. I am not a fan of harsh noise but when Bellrope drop slices of it into a track it pops like salt in caramel. It is rare that a band can sound so visceral yet cerebral at the same time. Like a primal scientist. Is this what Dr Cornelius would sound like if he had a bass guitar?
To hear an album that is challenging to listen to but also a lot of fun is bloody marvellous . I can only imagine what they sound like live. I hope I do not have to wait too long to find out.
Crushing and enlightening
(9/10 Matt Mason)