Album Reviews

Hands Up Who Wants To Die: Nil All

The Irish noise agitators return with their first LP in nine years.

The cynics out there may claim that noise-rock is becoming as contaminated as post-punk. It’s probably true (the best statement so far was a suggestion that noise-rock is like 2023 version of nu metal – admittedly, it drew a chuckle).

Like all things in life, however, there are good and bad, and while some may disagree, this is where the gatekeepers play their part.

That’s why the likes of Human Worth are vital. One of the few underground labels consistently releasing something that breaks through the barriers of mediocrity, yet again they’ve unleashed another beast in the form of Irish four-piece, Hands Up Who Wants To Die, who after a nine year absence return with Nil All.

Remote Viewing: Modern Addictions

Now featuring Rory O’Brien of Ten Past Seven, Hands Up Who Wants To Die take things up a notch from their second LP, Vega in the Lyre; or down, however you wish to perceive it, for this is music conceived in grimy hellholes. Just imagine a twisted, horror version of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim With Two Birds and you may just get the picture of where this album goes. Take the opening cut, Clothbound – a scene enveloped in misery as guitars produce blood-curdling sounds akin to ligaments being torn from the bone.

Hands Up Who Wants to Die - Nil All

The hilariously titled Late Cormorant Fishing drills down into the black pits of humour associated with noise-rock, and with the visceral Scratch Acid-like blast to match, the hellscape forms. So too with 0-0, although here, Hands Up Who Wants to Die move through the years, as the slow, medieval Pajo-inspired build-ups take us through the haunted terrains that lead us to Spiderland. It continues on Nil All’s centrepiece, L’innconnue. A post-hardcore serenade with a rockabilly twang providing an apt backdrop to the sinister story that unravels through the song.

BIG|BRAVE: nature morte

The band pulls us back in the burning pit with Nausea. A track that echoes the ghosts of Killdozer, as slow, gore-like noise rings out, which essentially feels like you’re being chased through a haunted house. And the front door isn’t in sight, as Hell Is Just More of What’s Already True is like slow-motion terror, the curtain call for one’s end. Alongside God’s Favourite, it’s almost like being led to your last rites. Again, with hushed, Slint-like build-ups, God’s Favourite rips, tears, and explodes (“You will have no power over me!”). It’s the shining moment on Nil All.

With Ludger Sylbaris, the end is fitting, with surging riffs and down-on-the-chain bass weight exuding the kind of paranoia prevalent during these times. With something like Nil All, Hands Up Who Wants to Die illustrate that we are all escaping from something. They’ve mirrored the collective thought through brute noise and bloodied dismay. That’s why they aren’t just another noise-rock band.

Nil All is out now via Human Worth (UK), Sleeping Giant Glossolalia (US) and Fonoradar in the (EU/Poland). Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

2 replies on “Hands Up Who Wants To Die: Nil All”

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