A Place to Bury Strangers - Onwards to the Wall - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

A Place to Bury Strangers - Onwards to the Wall

by Miz DeShannon Rating:8.5 Release Date:2012-02-06

"Total sonic annihilation" is how they describe themselves, and there's no exaggeration there at all. It's not a sound that's new, it's not innovative, but it's damned intense and obsessively good. Think a much more hardcore BRMC, with a foundation of Jesus & Mary Chain, sprinklings of NIN and maybe some Ministry and The Cult too.

Onwards to the Wall is the umpteenth release from post-punk, hardcore shoegaze purveyors of jet-engine-like overdriven intensity A Place to Bury Strangers. The NYC band really are a force to be reckoned with, Onwards to the Wall reputedly being the loudest master that the record label have ever received. The Washington Post have branded them "The most ear-shatteringly loud garage/shoegaze band you'll ever hear" and their live shows have got so chaotic and raucous they've earnt the title of loudest band in NYC. But it's not just noise for the sake of noise - each song is a well-crafted sonic maelstrom of feedback-drenched goth melody, with wailing guitars and driving, fuzzy, thunderous bass.

Oliver Ackermann, frontman of the Brooklyn three-piece, custom builds and designs his own hand-wired pedals (used by some serious artists the world over), as yet another part of his Death By Audio all-singing-all-dancing music venue and collective. And they have fabulous names like Interstellar Overdriver, Supersonic Fuzz Gun, Total Sonic Annihilation. Wow. Never underestimate the power of the perfect guitar effects unit - so many bands would have been nothing without the right distortion.

From the smack in the face that is 'I Lost You', with its dark murmuring vocalisations, fast-paced drumming and low, rumblings off a bass guitar, APTBS's wall of noise is perfected with intense wailing guitar riffs, always using said effects units. A garage pop vibe on 'So Far Away' makes for the most commercial track on the release, and - so-be-it - it's the single, while title track 'Onwards to the Wall' has a bassline reminiscent of early The Cure, but with a boy-girl vocal trade-off that's haunting and intense yet somehow sexy at the same time.

'Nothing Will Surprise Me' blasts off with more intensity, more raucous strumming and a melodic vocal. There's no huge variety here. APTBS have a solid sound which they're very secure in, and this EP follows on perfectly from releases like Ego Death and 'Keep Slipping Away' - a dark mix of pummeling riffs and harmonious lyrics. 'Drill It Up' finishes with more of the same.

I guess you could say that APTBS sound is like a fine piece of knitwear - it's all about textures, a sexy intensity which envelops your ears and keeps them warm and drenched in reverb and fuzz. Maybe not. But one things for sure, this is another fine release from the exciting post-punk rockers - positively cashmere.

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