No one needs to hear another feature introduction about how good the quality of the releases from the doom scene have been in the last several years, or indeed extreme music as a whole. Indeed, doom, and its associated subgenres, have had a fair share of laudations from fans and the press alike recently, but with the influx of bands it can be hard to stand out in the modern scene.
Perhaps this is why an onslaught of unique gimmicks, original classifiers and sub-subgenres have emerged, often bearing an uncanny resemblance to an already existing style. We’ve had the “Faroese doom” of Hamferð, the “cosmic doom” of Ufomammut and the “caveman battle doom” of Conan, and whilst these bands are all commendable stalwarts of the scene, it can be refreshing to come across a band with a less flamboyant means of marketing. British duo Noisepicker tick this box, but despite that, they also boast one of the genre’s most distinct sounds, as was epitomised on their aptly named debut EP doom/punk/blues.
The full-length follow-up, Peace Off, follows very much in the same suit. Whilst many in the scene claim ownership to a sound broader than traditional doom, whether it’s a blackened take on doom, a more atmospheric strain of sludge or some other more bizarre concoction, it rarely lives up to that hype – Noisepicker break this mould, their dirgy riff-based stylings boasting a sound as bluesy as it is doomy, with a gnarly rough edge that borrows heavily from punk. For a project that originally started as a piano-based blues project, meant as something new from riff devotee and frontman Harry Armstrong (Lord Of Putrefaction, Decomposed, Hangnail, Firebird, The Earls Of Mars), Noisepicker are especially noisy.
Last time we spoke to Armstrong, the duo, completed by drummer Keiran Murphy, were just gearing up to record Peace Off, so now that its release on May 11th is fast approaching, we decided to let the man behind the noisepicking talk you through the album track-by-track.
No Man Lies Blameless
The album opener. An ugly, noisy start that kicks into one of our doomiest riffs. Designed to set the mood for the message within – All of us are at fault for the mess that surrounds us. The human race is an infant, kicking and screaming if it doesn’t get its way. It needs to grow to learn to take responsibility for its actions. Unfortunately, it will need to go through puberty and adolescence to get there. And that is gonna be a lot messier than where we’re at now. Basically – we’re fucked!
So You’re Sick?
The world is full of twisted, bitter, angry fools. The weight of disappointment that their lives didn’t turn out to be the fairytales they were promised in their youth lies heavy on their blackened hearts. They feel robbed and filled with groundless hate. Reason and logic are non-existent and they spend their days looking for any excuse to ruin someone else’s day. It’s an infection and it’s spreading like a cancer. Can you see a theme coming through here?
A Taste Of My Dying
A hefty dip of the toe into our influences. Very much the original idea for this project was mixing doom and blues. The title is a reinvention of a song from the Decomposed album Hope Finally Died that I was involved with back in the ’90s. That song was a death metal look at the unborn having a glance of life to come. This one is from the living perspective. A realisation that death is near, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
He Knew It Would All End In Tears
Originally recorded for our Doom/Punk/Blues EP, but I was never quite happy with how it turned out, so we had another stab at it, and this is much more how I heard it in my head. A song about love and jealousy and how these things can twist the mind into a line of reasoning that is far from logical. It doesn’t end well for all concerned.
O What Mercy Sorrow Brings
There’s a few nods to my musical past on this album, and this is possibly the most obvious. The riff is a strong nod to an old Hangnail song from the Ten Days Before Summer album, but with the mood completely switched around by a key change, and a good old Motörhead style drum pattern kicking it in the arse. It’s all about how hitting rock bottom can bring a relief. That feeling when you don’t need to hold on anymore and can slip into the abyss. Generally, we’re a pretty happy, good time party band, right?
I Hear You Talking And It Sounds Like Bullshit To Me
I think the title says it all, and the lyric just constantly repeats the message. This song was actually written on stage at a punk festival on Rugen Island in the north of Germany. The people there wouldn’t let us off the stage until we played another song, so Kieran just started playing that opening drum pattern and we made it up on the spot. Unfortunately, we have no recording of that night, so this is kinda how we think it went! Like ‘Tribute’ by Tenacious D!
This Is How The World Will End
Another re-visited song from our debut EP. We wanted to try it slower and gnarlier and I think it gives it a different edge. The slower pace giving me a bit more space to spit out my disgust at the greed of our kind. Bunch of cunts that we are!
Burning The Witch
The first song that I wrote while the seeds of Noisepicker were knocking around in my head two years ago. I made a demo of it, along with a video, but didn’t like how it turned out so I scrapped it. We had some spare time in the studio during the recording of this album so I just started playing the riff and Kieran joined in and we nailed it in a take. He’d never even heard the song before! I was amazed that it turned out so well, so we decided to put it on the record. I’m about to re-edit the original video to fit the new version. That’ll be on our YouTube channel soon.
The Day When All Hope Died
Another last-minute studio jam, although I had played Kieran a demo of this one before we recorded it. It was just a groove that we jammed three or four times until it had a structure, then I added the words later. An attempt at telling the story of a spoilt child’s life, and how she gets pushed into rebellion by the weight of her parents’ expectations. As Freddy Mercury once put it – too much love will kill you every time.
I Stood By Her Grave
Originally written as an acoustic piece to get the mood right. The thinking being that if the song feels heavy acoustically, it’ll be crushing when we add the distortion. And I think it worked! A song about how the good die young and the arseholes hang around forever. So I guess I’ll be here for a while. See you at the bar!
Peace Off is out May 11th on Exile On Mainstream. Pre-order here.
Intro Words: George Parr