Sometimes you know, sometimes you just know. I get loads of emails in my Inbox from bands, more than I could ever hope to cover, mostly great. But sometimes I get something that is just me, just what I like. From the opening minute of this debut album from Austrian band Melt Downer I knew that I was in for a treat, but by the end it was not exactly the sort of treat that I was expecting… it was more than that, quite a bit more.
This is because there is more to Melt Downer than first meets the eye. Album opener ‘Junkademy’ hits you like a train exploding out of a tunnel. There’s noise, there’s fuzz… the whole thing is banging, an aesthetic that continues with ‘RAVE’, which also has a really heavy blues element to it. This band is seriously punk in its attitude, and apparently was scrupulous to capture its, by all accounts, sweat-dripping-full-on-nitro live shows. As an old punk there’s much here that takes me back, but not in any nostalgic way. There’s a really fresh feeling to this band as shown with ‘Keep Falling Off’, which could come from one of my faves, Destruction Unit…mad…angry…psychedelic…pow!
Things change with ‘Patterns of Random Data’, the first of a brace of longish tracks which deliver something altogether different. Shorter bangers are all very well, but an album full of them doesn’t say much about the ambition of a band…and I like bands with ambition. This is a slower track with a massive phat bass line careering right through the middle, showing that Melt Downer are by not means ‘one trick ponies’. Elements of psych and post-punk grapple with each other, especially in the central section which struggles to stay on the organised side of chaos…the frontier of which is where my absolute favourite music is made. The band bring the track home by stripping it back and giving it a soft landing.
This leads us into the funky ‘The Leisure Death’, which continues with a slower more kicked back vibe that is, nevertheless, filthy in its own way before bursting out into a crackajack of a beat which will have you up on your feet, if you aren’t already. Lead track ‘Mutter’ briefly brings us back into the heavy fuzzed-up punk chaos before there band take another surprising turn with ‘Sri Lanka’.
All of a sudden we find ourselves in mid-era New Order with the Bernard Sumner vocals and heavy Hooky bass. This is nothing something that is particularly dwelt on, but during the first listen it really wasn’t what I was expecting. The band the go off into an expansive free-form vibe which is more experimental and electronic that previous tracks… and it really hooks you in with the relentless bass and leftfield turns that seem to take you deeper into the centre of the music. This track may have started safe but it certainly doesn’t stay there… stick with it as it becomes ever more compelling, almost like a jazz improv by the end.
Then just when you think that you’re getting a handle of things, Melt Downer hit you with the hardcore ‘White Gathering’. Just have it! Well that is until ‘Science is Fiction’, which improbably takes things up a notch and slams you into a wall of sound, spoken word, and sensation that will leave you feeling strangely cleansed… what a live proposition this band must be.
There’s no real let up with ‘Back Down For The People Of The Past’ which maintains the high octane rawk which threatens to get out of control on occasion, the band just bringing it back when you think they’ve tipped over the edge. But that’s nothing compared with ‘Trespass’ with its elements of Sonic Youth at their most intense… the trespass here is on the far side of the fuzzy badlands… this is one evil motherfucker of a track.
OK, so last track up… don’t expect yet another banger though. ‘Dawner’ is a thirty minute (yes that’s half an hour) exploration of sound and mind as the band click into the experimental zone and deliver a stretched out stoner/ doom track that it as relentless as it is heavy and brain-drillingly potent. In actual fact there’s far more going on here, a sonic journey that you just need to latch on to and let it abduct you. It’ll take you to some pretty weird places… what’s not to like.
I knew there was something about this band when I started to listen to them. What I didn’t know was that by the end I’d be struggling to keep my thoughts together in any coherent way to describe this album in any sort of holistic manner. Taking the shorter tracks aside there would be a well-decent punk/ noise/ psych album that would fry your mind and melt your face. But that’s not the whole story here. There is also the sound of a band kicking out in many different directions, the sound of a band exploring away from its (hard)core elements and doing just what bands should be doing…confounding and surprising the listener in a way that is both thoughtful and thrilling.
Yeah, I like it!.