For fans of psychedelic, digitised reimaginings of punk, 2019 was defined by two acts – Brazilian trio Deafkids, signed to Neurosis’ own Neurot Recordings, and London duo Petbrick, formed by thrash legend Iggor Cavalera and producer extraordinaire Wayne Adams (of Ladyscraper and Big Lad fame). Both the former’s third LP Metaprogramação and the latter’s full-length debut I were album of the year contenders, sharing a vaguely similar sound and an ethos of resistance, whether it’s against genre boundaries or the societal status quo.
When the two collaborated at Roadburn that year, their varied influences coalesced into a primal, spiritual performance of mind-altering magnitude driven by driving percussion, formless synth soundscapes, chanted vocals and raw d-beat guitars. In that moment it felt like lightning in a bottle, but with the two acts meeting up in Adams’ London studio later that year to record an eagerly anticipated collaborative album, that bottle has now been packaged and shipped, and you’re gonna want to get a crate in.
Deafbrick is hypnotic from start to finish, but despite both band’s strengths when it comes to frenzied bouts of intense noise, the record’s strength lies in its dynamism, and it’s ability to exercise restraint where appropriate. Opener ‘Primeval I’ and its closing counterpart ‘Primeval II’ exhibit this trait most clearly. Instead of hitting the accelerator from minute one, the bands build tension through rising percussion and some sinister atmospherics that seem to prep your psyche for the incoming onslaught. You’re never quite sure when it’s coming, but there’s always a sense that mayhem could be around the next corner.
It doesn’t take long. Lead single ‘Força Bruta’ sees both bands simultaneously at their heaviest. It’s a two-minute burst of pure adrenaline, racing out of the gate like an industrialised Motörhead hellbent on giving you a headache. It’s a clear statement of intent and yet a mere hint at what’s to come – if you’re not already gripped, perhaps this album isn’t for you.
Elsewhere, the bands seem to almost be creating the music of the future, as the growling underbellies of tracks like ‘Sweat-Drenched Wreck’ and ‘Máquina Obsseessibo-Compulsiva’ begin to be warped beyond comprehension by futuristic synth programming. The opening two minutes of ‘The Menace Of The Dark Polar Night’ feature what we imagine future generations will hear as their minds are programmed by government-issued robots each morning. On ‘Mega-ritual’, the two bands’ different approaches to psychedelia meet in a raging vortex of mind-bending noise, showcasing both Petbrick’s thrashing percussion and studio wizardry as well as Deafkids’ sped-up-acid-rock drumming and elusive swirling soundscapes.
Even when you might feasibly assume that you have at least some idea of where the record will go as it gears up for a rendition of Discharge’s ‘Free Speech For The Dumb’, they reimagine the punk classic as a seven-minute psych-punk headtrip, with members of the English punk veterans themselves even showing up on the song’s amorphous outro just to explain exactly why the cover is so bad – “Metallica did a fucking better version than that”, one voice says (ouch).
Each and every track seems to bring you further and further away from the familiar, warping your perception of music until you begin to question what you’re hearing and through extrapolation start asking deeper questions about your own existence and the world around you. And yet, the more tangible aspects of this album, be it the hardcore punk riffs or the pounding percussion that’s heavily inspired by the African and indigenous South American music that comprises many of its members’ heritage, merges with the cybernetic noise and overwhelming psychedelia to create a new reality, one that’s able to learn from the past but always willing to meet the future both musically and in life as a whole.
At times it’s hard to tell whether this record is inducing madness or expanding your mind. Perhaps its role is simply to show us that these seemingly juxtaposing notions in fact go hand in hand.
Deafbrick is out today on Rocket Recordings and can be purchased here.
Words: George Parr