Album Appreciation: Strange Desires by Holy Scum

Let’s face it, if you are going to call yourselves ’Holy Scum’ then you are probably coming with certain expectations baked in. The words that I immediately conjured up were ‘loud’, ‘chaotic’ and ’filthy’… fortunately this debut album from the Manchester-based collective is all this and more… in fact it’s like a post-nuclear malfunctioning all concrete dystopian robot knocking on the door and asking if you want to come out to play.

Tropes around the collapse of society and speaking with the dead are never far away from the subject matter here… and this is not only represented from the almost unintelligible lyrics… but from the full on machine that is the band throughout this set… there’s barely a let up… actually there is no let up as they power through the album like Suicide having a panic attack on speed…

As you might expect from a couple of members of GNOD this is heavy… and there are places, such as ‘Everyone Takes But You Just Take More’, where the ghosts of Chaudelande are there if you want to hear them. Actually this is a good place to start because this is a track which is an absolute banger… it’s loud… it’s brash… it’s fucking scary… and it just has that heavy industial beat which meshes well with the noise to create something that has drive and stasis at the same time..

This is also the case in ’A World About To Die’ which is a sensation so fraught with feedback and fuzz that you have to find it first before you can actually listen to it… once there it is an incredibly dense and complex entity… it’s like in a sci-fi film when the come across an ’anomaly’… it’s only when you actually get inside it when you can recognise its true nature.

However, this feel relatively restrained when compared with ‘Light Chooses Mine’ with its up front distortion and banging percussion… the way it just keeps on building feels like you are falling into a vortex.. something that actually increases as the track reaches its plateau… it’s certainly loud, chaotic and filthy… and it just really rocks in a totally surreal manner… and it just keeps of getting better as it slips into ’Drowned By Silence’… once tuned into this shit it’s absolutely irresistible… even as the world seemingly ends with a glitch…

‘Useless Wonderful Doubt’ begins with an absolute cacophony of sound that, if anything, seems to get further out as we once again find ourselves plummeting into the unknown… everything seems to have broken down and were cast adrift into a sea of static and forgotten communications… is as disconcerting as anything I can imagine and listening to it feels like you are being torn away from reality… it is at the same time powerful and panic attack inducing… the land of the synapse breaking dragons beyond the end of the world.

Which bring us to the final number ‘PCGFHILTHPOSHI’ which feels like it is taking place on another timeline… it feels unreachable… deliberately distanced from the listener and yet another in the multitude of ways that this album is disturbing and beyond the edge of chaos… with the drums just about bringing it back from the brink near the end… both incredible and incredulous.

It’s only now that I can go back to the first two tracks… now I am a bit more dialled in… and so it starts of with ’Never Feeling Your Endless Breathing’ which is an absolute sledgehammer of a number which takes your ears to places they they never thought they would go… it’s brash and at times almost unlistenable… were in not for the considerable amount of stuff that’s going on underneath this cloud of unhearing… it is at the same time stunning and startling…

Which brings me, finally, to ‘Room Of Cruelty’… on the weight of the title and the rest of the album this clearly isn’t going to be an easy listen… and it frankly isn’t… but I still want to listen to it all the same… it feels like the sonic equivalent of being tied to a bucking bronco machine made of barbed wire and tossed around like a rag doll… it’s so heavy and so ’couldn’t give a shit’ noisy that you feel at once impelled and repelled…

This is an album like none I’ve heard before… maybe I have just led too sheltered a life… but in a corner of the leftfield where GNOD are considered noisy and chaotic this one sets new standards for it sheer hell bent need to stare into the abyss and report back. At times you are there staring in too… but, like a visit to Chernobyl, you can never stay for too long…

‘Strange Desires’ is released by Rocket Recordings.



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