Brighton’s Kalloused find themselves in a slightly unenviable position at present. The four piece are held in high esteem by UK underground music scene peers and those that have had their faces removed by the band’s furious live show. Outside of these groups, Kalloused aren’t as widely known as they deserve to be. Second full-length Thousand Griefs is set to change that. While 2016’s Damn You Believer served as a sonic manifesto of Kalloused’s genre-blending, savagely bleak style, Thousand Griefs truly captures the raw, beating heart of the band. A difficult, prolonged birth marked by personal adversity, the frustration felt here bubbles to the surface like scalding tar, exploding in a cacophony of righteous, searing, cathartic rage.
Opener ‘Fractured’ briefly gasps air before taking up position a half inch away from your face, spitting with confrontational, throat-wrecking vocals and roaring riffs. Whining guitars fight against stomping kicks, taking a left turn into a predatory drive backed by a hellish chorus of vocal rounds. Clattering, barely controlled snares encourage the foam-mouthed chaos, an unexpected left hook of a key change upping both threat and tempo before locking into a stuttering stop/start. Nailing down into a rolling groove, a relentless squall of tumbling, breathless chaos envelopes. This is what Kalloused do. They take sections, riffs and ideas that lesser bands would isolate and stretch out into ten minute doom opuses and smash them together at supercollider velocity, condensing into savage blasts of four-minutes-or-less fury.
‘Host’ lopes along amid squealing feedback and atonal bass, abruptly diving into a racing, frantic tremolo sprint before growling bass and grinding doom chords grind out ‘til collapse. ‘Broken Words’ is restless, tense cymbals and distant, breathy whispers suddenly sucked into a glowering bass sinkhole. Brooding guitars and swooping noise usher in a huge, caustic chug, underpinned by roiling vocals and hissing cymbals. A dipping groove and the call/response of a roared ‘us/you’ is begging to be screamed back by a crowd battered into capitulation.
‘Wade Through Hell’ pulses with punishing drums and ringing chords, dropping into a weighty, catchy as fuck riff and desperate shouts of ‘help us/please’. Kalloused are no strangers to clear railing against a fractured system, but the line “your broken backs support the weight now of the few” is truly heart-on-tattooed-sleeve stuff. A wall of grinding tone coupled with lyrics like these frames this as a fist-raising anthem for rebellion. ‘Rest’ doesn’t provide much of its namesake, laying down sickeningly atonal chugging, trampling bass and a huge, lip curlingly nasty groove before vanishing abruptly.
The title track haunts with ringing guitar notes before promptly descending into slow, malevolent savagery. Ponderous drums pound as the rage builds, vocals breaking down into unintelligible, atavistic screams before taking up a ranting diatribe. Massive, far-reaching riffs hit like a cinder block over heaving bass, uniting in a guttural, chaotic climax. ‘Belief for the Damned’ creeps with gentle guitars and snaking drums, an eerie sense of unease that’s shaken apart by atonal stabs and churning riffs and feral, endlessly looping vocal rounds. Closer ‘Lucid’ builds on rapid kicks with swooshing noise, tumbling toms and a looping, murderously rhythmic bass line, rising in a steadily increasing wave of noise. Direct, driving, unstoppable riffs and consistent tempos have this seeming the most focused track on the album, despite echoing guitars threatening to spiral off into the void before ending so abruptly the sudden silence is deafening.
In 33 concise, destructive minutes, Kalloused achieve what few bands can – capturing nearly all the vitriol, spite and hateful intensity of their live set and distilling it into an album that shows both how far they’ve come and how they’ve maintained their essential sense of self. ‘Thousand Griefs’ is the soundtrack to a society poised on the brink; a sonic channelling of the frustration, fury and fear we all feel, and a rallying call to tearing down a system that feeds on suffering, inaction and apathy.
Thousand Griefs is out now and can be purchased here.
You can read our interview with Kalloused here.
Words: Jay Hampshire