06 February 2012

JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER: A Place to Bury Strangers: Onwards to the Wall [EP]

JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER is a feature where selected media (music, film, book, etc.) is first reviewed based solely on the merits of its cover. A second review of the contents then proves or disproves the idiom "never judge a book by its cover." Almost Colossus Mythbusters.
A Place to Bury Strangers
Onwards to the Wall [EP]
Deep Oceans; 2012

A juxtaposition of modern and ancient buildings? Looks like a David Byrne TED lecture.

The left side of A Place to Bury Strangers' EP, Onwards to the Wall looks immediately like a close-up on last year's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will by post-rock vets Mogwai. It could just as well be the cover of any trendy NYC indie band, so the sound could vary anywhere from droning guitars and electronics to whatever hipsters listen to today. So, like, Black Bananas? Yeah, whatever they sound like. But the right side's temple is deceiving. It's easy to think jam-band. But the psychedelic Instagram water-coloring hints at something less Rusted Root and more Akron/Family. It's also eerie; a pillar of impending doom -- Mayans, 2012, all that. Wait, that's it -- doom, stoner metal, drone. Whatever you want to call it, there is definitely some amplifier feedback and sludgy guitars to be found within.

While it takes a few genres to describe OTTW, none of them are drone, metal, or doom, although  singer/guitarist Oliver Ackerman seems well versed in doomed relationships. From his deadpan Ian Curtis impression on "It'll Be Alright" as well as the title track, featuring a duet of love-torn bloody valentines with a guest female vocalist, Joy Division bleeds all over these five brief tracks. Wall opens with the shoegazing "I Lost You," where Ackerman's Static Age melodies are driven by a bass march pulse below a sheet of noise guitar soaring overhead.

While the whole affair may be standard post-punk noise, if not pushing the envelope; it does at least nudge -- what, with the addition of a second drummer (look out, Melvins!) Wall's raw visceral emotion is captivating. And brief. The album clocks in at just over 16 minutes, but not before closing with the post-everything scream-a-long "Drill It Up."

Although OTTW isn't the stoner dredge suspected to be, it does share some of the noise and Kraut influences one might find on Southern Lord.


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