Gnod aren’t a band who rest on their laurels. Having been met with the menacing zonal blast of last year’s La Mort Du Sens (which roared into our Top 50 albums of the year), it’s a short turnaround for the Salford collective who, months later, release their follow-up, Hexen Valley.
While the likes of La Mort Du Sens and Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine were immediate fizzy slabs of malice-hearted noise that exploded through the glass ceiling, on Hexen Valley, while that sharp ascent continues, make no mistake: Gnod are deep in the malaise and here they drag us with them.
Hexen Valley sees Gnod immersed in their natural habitat. A rugged flea-riddled cosmos that the band now claim as their own where only the brave dare enter.
And upon entering, we are met with the mute despair of Bad Apple. With a series of Paddy Shine’s muffled groans which are backed by fragmented shards of sound, Gnod produce images via sound. Those images? The Jesus Lizard going toe-to-toe with Lucifer.
Combing their hypnotic rumble with the staple short, sharp-eyed clamours, Spotlight is the sweet spot in which Gnod should be developing for future releases, because this is the finest thing band has etched to tape.
A protracted squelching drone assault conceived from black pits, Spotlight is Gnod at their most primal and animalistic. A band completely unhinged and revelling in the fact. Which leads into Skies Are Red – a cut brimming with staple Gnod themes (“Backs against the wall”/ Where’s the love?”), it’s like a pressure vessel on the verge of explosion.
The warped lunacy continues with Antidepressants. What starts off as some sordid downer-rock lament turns into a Melvins Bullhead-era head charge into the maelstrom. A ball-tearing hypnotic battering only Gnod can deliver.
And the surprises continue with Still Runnin’. With a sinister surf rock groove that explodes with the kind of guttural screech Head Of David once heaped upon their listeners, Still Runnin’ is yet another in the long line of Gnod songs that would pummel in the live arena.
It all comes to a crashing halt with Waves Of Fear. Taking its cue from Antidepressants, Gnod adopt a hefty bass weight that cloaks Shine’s anxious barks. Still, the fear oozes from the sides, contaminating the bloodied floors in which this grizzled beast of an album was made.
Whether Hexen Valley is the most successful entry into the Gnod journal is hard to gage. However, what’s evident is a band completely raging with fire. With its hard edges, spits, snarls and general brutal posturing, on Hexen Valley Gnod scrape together potent remnants and deliver a malignant wall of sound. The result is a band that hasn’t sounded so dangerous, and in these uncertain times no one has crystallised reality like Gnod.
Hexen Valley is out now via Rocket Recordings. Purchase from Bandcamp.