Over the past couple of years, many young bands have taken the influence of slowcore and bent it into bizarre shapes. While admirable in some regard, there’s only band that can master this, however, and that’s the genre’s forebearers, Low.
Ambitious efforts aside, it’s why deathcrash are a better proposition than 95 per cent of other acts in this space. The London four-piece aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel in bombastic ways, instead adding their own inflections to one of the most crucial periods in underground music over the past four decades.
Clocking in at hour and five minutes, last year’s Return was – by modern day standards – an epic. Deathcrash’s follow-up, Less (as its title suggests) sees them parting with their desolate diatribes in smaller doses.
It didn’t always intend to be this way. Originally billed as an EP and eventually being drawn out to a full-length, it sees deathcrash joining their South London contemporaries, Black Country, New Road and black midi on that hamster wheel of delivering two albums in as many years.
Operating in the same locale, in truth, deathcrash don’t strike me as a band yearning for the same recognition or success. All throughout the last four decades, participants in slowcore and post-hardcore were never into these insidious by-products of ‘indie’ music that continue to blight modern day artistic expression. The tedious bolt-ons of metrics and the like. No, deathcrash just go about their work and, if anything, are more aligned with the likes of Sweet Williams than any other acts vying for 6 Music relevance. With Less that notion is maintained.
On opening track Pirouette, deathcrash stir up the embers of sadcore. That lonely walk down uninhabited paths into an future uncertain. “I play dead / You wake up,” sings Tiernan Banks, setting the bleak tone for what is to come.
Taking its ques from the title, Empty Heavy cranks up the distortion (“I was biding my time / you were pulling it out”) in what is deathcrash’s answer to Mogwai Fear Satan. Meanwhile, And Now I Am Now Lit echoes with a guitar chime that ties Ameican Football-era emo around the beast of post-hardcore. Here deathcrash become untethered from their past, making a clean break towards new territory.
They end heavy with Dead, Crashed, and alongside earlier album cut, Distance, both are immersed in Codeine reverence; the former taking the off-cuts of Sea and transforming it with subtle sketches that vary in weight and tone.
“It hurts much less,” sings Banks on the Less’ defining moment, Turn. Trying to find those cracks through the sheets of darkness, it’s the kind of forlorn hope one would expect from Greet Death. While perhaps not pitting the two bands together before, thematically they match up as new found blood brothers. Alongside the likes of Bondo, we have a group of bands that continue to carry the flag and add new embellishments to past glories. As far as slowcore goes, well, there aren’t too many around these parts doing it better than deathcrash, and Less is further evidence of that.
Less is out now via untilled (recs) Purchase from Bandcamp.
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