A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation

by Miz DeShannon Rating:8.5 Release Date:2015-02-16

The titles of tracks on the NYC noise rockers' fourth album reek of everything to do with an over-dramatic break-up. There is never much reporting on such things surrounding A Place to Bury Strangers, so who knows.

In quite a poignant manner, vocalist/guitarist and longest serving member Oliver Ackermann has said of this latest music “The meaning is the absolute truth. Life is super intense and fucked up so even accomplishing anything is a huge feat. We should all be proud of that.” Deep, and very true. Being relatively unable to understand any of the vocals on APTBS tracks, we'll never know how deep and meaningful that statement really is to him.

With a drummer seemingly programmed to mimic a machine gun, opening track 'Supermaster' is actually a fairly relaxed entry-point into the fourth album. A touch more like 80s post-punk and goth in the Gretch guitar wails, there might even be an E-bow in there. This band could be the first whose guitarist intentionally plays as though no music exists, tuneless most of the time and pure noise even when picked. This would be a good track to end their raucous live show with, considering the string-hacking feedback sounds fading out at the end.

Pre-Christmas single 'Straight' is apparently a feat in recording, as it's the closest the band have managed to come to their monumental and utterly mind-blowing live sound. I imagine that comes through when you play it on a decent enough system but, sadly, I haven't spotted it.

Starting with a noise that sounds like a car driving at you, combined with super-distorted guitar sounds, it's the wide range of bass riffs that carries the melody for the tune, and the drummer's treble is set nice and high to contrast. Remarkably clear vocal for APTBS on this one, and more mainstream sounding than usual, so probably not the closest to their live sound which is absolutely nuts really.

Signature whirring and wailing and major vocal distortion on the short sharp burst of 'Love High', drum parts are again filled with fourth beat crotchets that'd fit well with an indie set-up. This band are all about the layers, though, not a breakdown of the rhythm section. Noise, feedback, squealing, and layers and layers of it.

Their writing process is probably a good guide on 'How Not to Play Guitar' because it's all about Ackermann and his love of distortion - unsurprisingly, as he has his own pedal company. Strip away his guitar parts and the rest can be decidedly normal. 'What We Don’t See' definitely has swingy, indie vibe though. Shocker. Very well constructed, which isn't something usually said about APTBS.

Then 'Deeper' starts. At first you could be mistaken for thinking it's Alice Cooper's 'Poison', but it really isn't. No, definitely not. Sabbath-style crashing and doom-laden bass-booms smash through with a vocal that sends shivers through your veins. All that's missing is the bell toll.

Very soon you notice that all that darkness you thought had whiled away through the cynicism of being popular, hasn't at all. It's there, lurking. Mean and groaning. Personally, this is a much preferable direction. Full. On. For over six minutes.

Some strange Japanese inspired intro appears on 'Lower Zone', a purely instrumental outing, then the blasting intro of 'We've Come So Far'. Another new and surprising layer in the form of a female vocal softens the high-speed noise of this latest single, dipping into the psych world for even more cross-genre hopping.

It'd only be repetitive to go over the following tracks ('Now It's Over', 'I'm So Clean', 'Fill the Void'), considering they plateau out to be more of the signature noise, with variations in pace, strength of reverb, length of feedback, depth of bass. Not that this is a boring album in the slightest, but trawling through the variations and combinations of the layering would be.

They end with the most punk track of the album, 'I Will Die', a third of the track being an intro of (you guessed it) crashing distortion. In some instances their signature 'explosion of sound' has neatened up in this latest recording, but it's still an album with waves of contrast throughout.

Yet again APTBS leave you just desperate to see them live. They previously described themselves as “total sonic annihilation” - never has distortion overkill sounded so good.

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