A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head
Mute Records
Noise Rock
10 songs (41:40)
Release year: 2009
Mute Records
Reviewed by James

Despite having a name that recalls pre-teen metalcore bands, A Place To Bury Strangers are one of the more interesting noise rock acts about today. Whereas most noise-rockers are content to simply turn the fuzz up to eleven, knocking the listener over with waves of sonic shrapnel, A Place To Bury Strangers use a plethora of custom-guitar effects and stark, mechanical drums to create one of the biggest, most powerful sounds about today. And it's safe to say that guitar-abuser/vocalist Oliver Ackermann knows his guitars, being head of top guitar-pedals manufacturer Death By Audio. Death By Audio have produced equipment for U2's The Edge, Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor, and even arch-noisemaker himself, My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields. And when the man who turned distortion into an art form asks Ackermann for assistance, it's fair to say that A Place To Bury Strangers can create one hell of a racket.

And although the music of A Place To Bury Strangers is rooted in the gothic post-punk of early Cure, fused with the effects-laden freakouts of My Bloody Valentine, A Place To Bury Strangers add a shot of aggression to take their sound to another level. It Is Nothing starts us off with pounding drums and an odd ascending riff, coupled with a bizarre guitar effect that sounds like an engine being revved up. For all of A Place To Bury Strangers' shiny effects, they never loose sight of their garage-band roots. Their music still carries with it a loose, punky feel, Exploding Head being very much a human record despite often attempting to push what can be done with a guitar to the very limits (Ackermann claims some of the effects present can destroy equipment if not used properly) . Oliver Ackermann's built every effect heard on the album from scratch without any formal training. A lot of his effects are built with the intent of being as unpredictable as possible, and the wild bursts of noise are that of a band on a quest to be louder and noisier than anyone else.

Of course, just because A Place To Bury Strangers have a great sound, that doesn't necessarily mean the tunes themselves are any good. Luckily tracks like In Your Heart show that Ackermann can write tunes that'd still sound pretty decent recorded with more conventional sounds. Yet for every catchy slice of post-punk (Keep Slipping Away could have been any number of 80s UK bands) there's a track like Lost Feeling, slowing things down, Ackermann dourly crooning over funereal drumming before unleashing the full extent of their sonic power in a wailing, post-rock-inspired climax. It's no wonder A Place To Bury Strangers gigs usually end in an orgy of broken strings and shattered eardrums.

And I suppose Exploding Head's only real flaw, is that it feels like the band are holding back in the studio compared to their infamously intense live act. For all the bluster the band conjure up, music of this aural depth has to be witnessed in a live setting. Which is why I'm gutted I missed the band on their recent UK tour, as this is music that'd be taken to a whole other plane when the band are unencumbered by the limitations of studio recording. Expect louder, longer, and noisier stretches of audio chaos, the band known for being pretty much the loudest live act you'll ever see. Although you really should catch the band on tour, Exploding Head is a nice little primer for the main event.

Killing Songs :
It Is Nothing, In Your Heart, I Live My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart
James quoted 85 / 100
1 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:28 pm
View and Post comments