It’s becoming harder and harder to truly embody the “Other” in music these days, to get outside of normalcy and create art that’s challenging, shocking and scary. In metal it can often feel that entire genres are treading water, or that any innovations that are made are offering diminishing returns as we come close to having fully explored the style’s territory. Fortunately, with each passing day new doors open, and Bornwithhair are determined to boldly go where no men in a shed have gone before. Fittingly led by a musician that calls himself Weirding, the group’s debut album is also true to its title. Dragging listeners kicking and screaming through a bewildering array of programmed drums, guitar tones dredged from the back of a mouldy cupboard and spoken, harsh vocals, Radical Moon is one of the most unsettling (and compelling) avant garde releases heard in some time.
From opener ‘GALCIT 53’s pounding drum-machine onslaught and Weirding’s frantic mutterings about rocket scientists, Thelma and Joe McCarthy, it’s clear we ain’t in Kansas anymore. The album’s focus on the oddballs that helped secure an allied victory in World War 2 is an inspired choice. We’ve now reached the point where the period seems almost ancient history, thus becoming part of that vast sea of semi-mythic reference material that heavy music composers reach into constantly. But the complexity, the Otherness (and at the same time, the closeness) and the eerie factuality of a conflict so recent makes for myths that don’t end neatly, and Bornwithhair exploits this relentlessly. Tracks start and stop like the rusty gearbox of a long-abandoned Sherman tank, riffs cut in and out like intercepted radio signals. It makes for a juddering, uncomfortable listen, even on more cohesive songs like ‘Nonemaker’, which has the feel of a Nine Inch Nails B-side dragged backwards through a hedge.
This is a record that requires (and deserves) repeat listens. It’s Big Black, but if Steve Albini had been locked in the Unabomber’s cabin. Now go and reflect upon the happenstance, chaotic nature of history, and count our lucky stars that we get to listen to this instead of the Horst Wessel Song.
Radical Moon is released 21st February and can be purchased here.
Words: David Burke