Words Will Oakeshott
A matter of days in a studio in the Swiss Alps with two German talented musicians and an adventurous gifted Australian guitarist has equated to the formation of the bands HEADS. and the creation of their self-titled debut album. Recorded live and cut down from thirteen tracks to just six, this type of project is not one for the vulnerable, but one for the yearning to avoid monotony which is exactly what this trio exist by and the chemistry between the three men is unparalleled.
Opening track A Mural Is Worth A Thousand Words enraptures the listener with a thick hypnotic bass-line compliments of Chris Breuer (from famed post-metal outfit The Ocean), it’s rhythm literally sets the pace for not only the band but also the auditor’s heartbeat. Via the throaty grunt vocal delivery of guitarist/vocalist Ed Fraser (Melbourne musician formerly of Cut), the song is awoken and the observer is demanded to be “In It For Good” via the simplistic lyrics. This ultimately conveys the message that Heads instruct you to undertake the journey of their album, which is hard to ignore with the first track which flirts between the gothic post-punk of The Birthday Party and the noise-rock of KEN Mode.
Chewing On Kittens follows with a crunchy bass-line meeting a dreamy entrancing guitar addition, but the real intrigue of this track hits during a mid-song interlude where a Deftones inspired bleak yet daze-inducing drum and bass guitar musical combination captures an atmosphere bands could only wish to do. Before erupting to a tempo change with a gun-shot finish, there is a vocal moment which recalls Planes Mistaken For Stars singer Gared O’Donnell; it is as beautifully haunting as his appearance on Alexisonfire’s You Burn First.
The halfway point of the record showcases a track called Skrew which includes hints of post-metal similar to ISIS but drenched in a droney whiskey soaked gloom. Honestly, this song feels like it had the most preparation, especially with the borderline humming until the song finishes with the line “Just The Way It Has To Be”.
Black River is arguably the best amongst these six songs, a light introduction transports the witness into an almost lucid dream state of mind which is carried through beautifully the whole track. An indigenous tribute song of sorts, it nears a combination of stoner metal through Eyehategod in collaboration with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds adding a post-punk texture and then a remarkable southern rock inclined guitar solo. It has a subtle persuasive beauty about it that is simply transfixing.
Foam is the most difficult of the full-length, but merely because of its misdirect. At first it is extremely alike Tool’s Stinkfist, but with its progress it escapes this aforementioned anthem and leads into a completely improvised composition. The spoken word element and very drawn out musicianship which eventually includes the vocals is rather arduous to digest, it unfortunately makes this scribe question what was dismissed if this was included.
If there is a way to finish this adventurous record, The Voynich Manuscript is THE song to do it. Merging the distinctive yet memorable melancholy of The Doors and Joy Division darkness, adding an extra layer with some sludge inspired by The Melvins; this story really has you wondering “Where Is Jimmy At?” as the lyrics constantly interrogate. A siren-like finish with the guitar suggests this individual may actually be buried under the driveway with the culprit to be either arrested or an ambulance attempting to save him that is unknown, but it’s disturbing nature leaves one to be constantly questioning this and hoping for an answer with maybe album number two.
For this self-professed Noise-Noir rock album, it is brilliantly uneasy. The chemistry between the players though is remarkably unfathomable; this self-titled record both reads and hears like three men lost in their art but able to communicate without words just music. As if they can read each other’s thoughts note after note and know via their respected geniuses when a song should end. This is not a record that will draw you in at one listen, it may not after ten, but it will leave a thought in your mind every time that you are not finished with it yet. That enthralling manoeuvre is near mastermind.
If I had to give a rating, it would be 4/5ths of a bottle of whiskey (4 out of 5), because I know I’m going to need that little bit to start me off for the next listening experience.
Head self titled album is available now through Heart Of The Rat Records.