posted on 11/2006 By:
I kinda feel like this album—well, less this album than albums of its kind—should be required occasional listening for metalheads. As concerned with heaviness and aggression as we are, metal fans are usually little concerned with exactly what these terms mean, and tend to associate them with lyrical and aesthetic hallmarks (Satanic imagery, long hair, etc.) as much as they do with actual qualities of the music. Like Shellac, Unsane, Today is the Day, and The Jesus Lizard before them, Microwaves play jarring noise rock that is indisputably furious and heavy at times, albeit without any of the usual metal clichés. While not wildly innovative, Contagion Heuristics is quality listening for more experiment-friendly extreme music aficionados, and will provide a thought-provoking break in the monotony of blastbeats and downtuning for those in the market for one.
Now, Microwaves’ music will immediately piss off a good seventy-five to eighty percent of the metal-listening population, who will largely be unable to (or uninterested in) differentiate this music from the modern-post-spazz-grind whatever gibberish of The Locust or An Albatross. Microwaves’ sometimes mewled vocals and heavy electronic element don’t much discourage this comparison, but only on cursory listens will the comparison seem particularly valid. As previously mentioned, this has far more in common with the mid-90’s Amphetamine Reptile than it does with the more ‘scene-oriented’ noise rock bands, and there’s a healthy dose of The Boredoms’ schizo-punk early material thrown in here too. Tracks like “Eye Removal” and “Slime Aesthetic” screech and grind away with enough knuckleball transitions to come off unbalanced, while retaining enough rock structure and grit to catch and stick in your brain. The deliberately abrasive electronics section can become a little too painful, but it never reaches the insane Merzbow-like levels of audio destruction employed by the likes of TODD or Today is the Day. In short, this is well-composed and well-balanced, if not wholly inventive, brand of punk-inspired noise rock.
So is it metal? Not really. Is it metal-relevant? Absofuckinglutely. Though the guitar tone is closer to Black Flag’s than to Bloodbath’s and the aesthetic is of abstracted robot distaste rather than visceral br00talness, this music carries a violence that is intrinsically related to that of extreme metal. Take the twitchy, droning “Codex Vortex” for example. Not even a guitar-heavy track, it still drones along with a palpable insectile malevolence that’s as unnerving as anything that Blut Aus Nord or The Axis of Perdition has ever done. In the end, I can’t really recommend this to the average reader of this site, but I certainly endorse it as good listening for those with an interest in aggressive music outside of metal boundaries.
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