Not so much a progression as a steady flexing of muscles, Onwards to the Wall is a brief, visceral 16-minute noise jam, but A Place to Bury Strangers does what they do so solidly, they can hardly be faulted.
Undoubtedly prepping for their upcoming, month-long North American tour with The Joy Formidable, APTBS have carved a commendable name for themselves in the abrasive rock scene alongside contemporaries HEALTH and The Horrors, and while they do not yet parallel the clever evolution of the latter group, they certainly prove here that they haven’t run out of ideas yet. “I Lost You” features crushing reverb, relentless echoes, and breakbeat drum work, as Oliver Ackermann sounds morose as ever. Ackermann also contributed to the creation of the video for “So Far Away”, a bass-driven, claustrophobic march given added humanity with playful, off-the-cuff visuals.
The title track’s female vocals add a much-needed dynamic to the APTBS formula, and with melodic, spindly guitar riffs and a catchy motorik/post-punk beat, Ackermann, Dion Lunadon, and Jay Space fully show a change in sound from their previous album’s Isn’t Anything-era My Bloody Valentine-in-military-training sound to resembling something more akin to Joy Division via hell. There’s noticeable restraint here, and APTBS might be better for it. “Nothing Will Surprise Me” is one of the band’s fastest tracks, while “Drill It Up” is danceable, with a chorus begging to have crowds respond to Ackermann’s tortured calls.
With moments of breathing room and stripped melodies, APTBS continue subtle explorations of their strengths and the conflict between cacophony and harmony.
Essential Tracks: “Drill It Up”, “Onwards to the Wall”