A Thousand Hands


Felte Recordings, 2015


REVIEW BY: Ludwik Wodka


I’ll admit that I was intrigued when I read that Sextile’s new album A Thousand Hands was tagged as “post-punk,” “industrial punk,” and  “surf punk.”  Calling something both “industrial” and “surf” seems…contradictory. But upon listening to it, I would have to say that all those descriptions apply, but not necessarily at the same time. However, the sound is as compelling as it is intense. The Los Angeles-based quartet describes their sound as “dark primitive post-punk from outerspace.” While I would not disagree with this appraisal, the closest thing I can compare it to (for reference) is 1980s-era Butthole Surfers (i.e. “Locust Abortion Technician,” a personal favorite of mine). The lurching guitar riffs and roaring feedback mixed with the straight-16th drumming give it that nightmarish aura that few bands are able to pull off. But be warned: my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 This is not for everyone.

Beginning with the slow, ominous drone of the title track, we can tell right away this isn’t about to be a collection of quirky love songs. The vocals buried in the mix make it hard to make out any of the words, but the anguish in the voice comes through clearly. Following on this comes “Flesh,” with the reverb-drenched “surf rock” style riff, and then the frenetic “I Can’t Take It.” Other tracks, like “Truth And Perception” and “Shattered Youth” come across as brooding and dark with the warped guitar and synth sounds. “Into The Unknown” sounds reminiscent of The Swans. Bookending the album is another slow, ambient instrument called “The Introvert.” Its simplicity and relative clarity seem to be a good way to cleanse the palate and ease the transition back into everyday reality.

According to a recent interview, the band draws its name (Sextile) from “an astrological term relating to harmony and the ease of expression of two conflicting elements.” In a way, this is apropos for the album’s pacing changes up the dynamics between fast and slow, loud and quiet, chaotic and mechanical, which, combined with the dense and dissonant style, creates this intense chemistry within the songs. This is that kind of cathartic noisy art-rock that knows damn well it can only survive on the fringes. It is too unhinged for the mainstream radio…but that’s what makes it great.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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