Sensory overload occurs when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment. One such example of this is when your ears are being pummeled by music and your brain doesn’t quite know how to register the sensation it’s experiencing. This feeling can be rather overwhelming – but what if the over-stimulation is raw and abrasive enough that the body is left begging for more?
This is what it feels like listening to Next Life‘s latest record, Guru Meditation. As one of the innovators of using 8-bit computer synthesizers in metal music, over the past 20 years the Norwegian band have honed their craft, and this latest offering is a shining example of how to perfectly marry electronics and heavy music. The thirteen track album blends together chaotic DIY punk with electronics which wouldn’t be out of place in a Super Mario game, and it is the weaving together of these two elements, which gives the band its frantic nature and has our heart rate racing.
The record opens up with the title track ‘Guru Meditation’ and we’re greeted with abrasive 8-bit computer noises, layered with absolutely shredding guitars, and upon first listen it comes across as a rather jarring listen. But once your body has adjusted, the Next Life ride is one you want to get back up and go on over and over again. It almost feels like they are trying to test the listener at times, for them to cut out the weak, with those who are only truly worthy making it through the record.
This isn’t meant as a disparaging statement, it is more that the deeper into the record you go the bigger the pay off as a listener. The opening few tracks – ‘The Beyond Perception’ in particular – purposefully feel obtuse in their sound. Which makes it even better when you get to a track like ‘Astral Emanation’ where there seems to be a more traditional song structure at play, with distinguishable riffs and electronics working together in harmony. The engaging aspect to Guru Meditation is that the band take you on a journey throughout the record – there are intense highs and dark lows, and it is as if the listener is following a narrative. This becomes even more impressive with the lack of vocals on the record, as a lot of music lovers rely on a storytelling element to follow a through path in the music.
But with Next Life it is almost like a soundtrack to the greatest grindcore computer game you’ve ever played. The band picks up the pace for parts where you can imagine a big fight sequence, and they slow it right down for times when you can imagine tension is being built up. It’s fitting that this record is called Guru Meditation because it truly is a full body experience to listen to, you might just come out a bit more battered that you did going in that’s all.
Guru Meditation is out now via Fysisk Format and can be purchased here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck