When consuming music people do it in a variety of ways – on their commute to work, in the comfort of their own homes, out loud or through headphones. The key ingredient of all of these is comfort – people want to feel in control when they are listening to whatever takes their fancy. For Chicago’s experimental noise merchants meth. the last thing they want is for the listener to feel comfortable – in fact, the more discomfort the better the experience. The band’s first EPs mixed anguished howls, breakneck drumming and guitars being tortured. Now a fully formed beast, what meth. lay on the table here is something so haunting yet compelling and uneasy to listen to that it makes the listener hungry for more.
Mother of Red Light, the band’s debut full length release, starts as it means to go on, opening with the screeching noises of ‘Failure’ which wouldn’t be out of place in any horror b-movie. Similarly, the harrowing howls from vocalist Seb Alvarez in ‘Child of God’ are just a scene setter for what is to come during the rest of the record. Yet, for all their abrasiveness there is a real technical prowess to what meth. do, going from dour, drawn out layers of noise to hectic guitars which would do Daughters and The Locust proud. There is no one size fits all for this band. It would be easy to simply list all the elements which make this record absolutely phenomenal, but that would result in a track by track guide, such is the unique way the band manage to reinvent themselves on each of the nine tracks on offer here. From the disturbing ‘Inbred’, where the chilling screams of “Do you think of me?” call out over a single drum beat, to the unsettling, detuned effect used on ‘Cold Prayers’ meth. do not conform to any type of formula.
If you somehow survive the ride all the way through to the end of the record then the eleven minute long ‘The Walls, They Whisper’ is the climax you want. Starting off with a low, droning tone the song draws out into an intensely introspective experience with nearly five minutes of pure noise and feedback. Then, just as you think you’ve had enough, it kicks back in with the most vicious 45 second breakdown you will hear in 2019. Mother of Red Light may not be the most comfortable of rides, but it is a record that certainly invokes a dark and visceral feeling which you will struggle to find anywhere else.
Mother Of Red Light is out now via Prosthetic Records and can be purchased here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck