Benjamin Heal is no stranger to the U.K. DIY scene.
Splitting his time between the U.K. and Taiwan, over the past three decades, Heal has plied his trade in numerous projects, including Hitobashira-ni, Mori Mori, birdbath and, most recently, Coaxial.
Cowman was an alias under which Heal spent the mid ’00s producing music. Through a steady flow of new releases, he eventually shelved the project in 2013.
With the cost of living crisis escalating to the point of absurdity, only to be overshadowed by a Tory government inept at seeing past their own nose, merely making it all up as they go along (do we need to elaborate any further on the last 10 days?), Cowman makes a timely, if not prescient return with Slaughter, which follows the Crunch EP released a few months earlier.
Slaughter is the sound of uncertainly. A car crash that we’re all seemingly about to experience in the months ahead.
The capsule of politics isn’t somewhere we naturally occupy, because well… music is an escapism from such rigours. However, sometimes there’s no escaping it, particularly with a prime minister possessing the clear inability to tie her own shoelaces…
Through withering hell storms of sound, Cowman’s Slaughter somehow sums up the feeling. Start with Hydrant and later with Rinka – tracks that possess that pure ’80s chug. Think Band of Susans on speed. So too Blacktock and Kissing the Rock with Eyes. Lo-fi bee-swarms of noise that create post-apocalyptic atmosphere.
While Heal’s vocals throughout Slaughter are placed in the bowels of the mix, it’s intentional. Not only does it give these songs a clear DIY aesthetic, it gives off the vibe that Slaughter was conceived in a trash can – Cape Coast Castle the best example of this.
From here, things get darker as Heal takes the plunge further into black holes he is undoubtedly inspired by. Sticks, Stones, Fingers and Bones wouldn’t have looked out of place on Godflesh’s A World Lit Only By Fire.
The Big Black-inspired Itch is like an open wound, and it bleeds into the final stanza, Wichita Black Sun. Here, we are once again walking through the scorched terrains Justin Broadrick once conquered.
Locked in with apocalyptic grooves, Wichita Black Sun is arguably the best homage to Streetcleaner you’re ever going to hear. Through haemorrhaging walls of sounds, Heal grabs you by the scruff of the neck and demands your undivided attention.
And while Slaughter is a mash-up of sounds that have inspired Heal since Cowman’s inception back in the ’00s, here he’s given us all his best bits in one fell swoop. The wait has been worth it, and as bleak as some parts of it sound, it may just be the remedy that helps us get through the ire of this impending shit storm.
Slaughter is our Friday via Cruel Nature Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.
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