Monday, February 6, 2012

Album Review: A Place To Bury Strangers - Onwards To The Wall EP

Album Rating: A-
Post-punk revival may not be as common as it was in the early and mid 2000's, but that doesn't mean the wave is over. A Place To Bury Strangers is out to prove that that post-punk still lives with their screaming new EP. The record features many of the same qualities the band is well known for, with plenty of screaming distortion and drive to squeeze the most out of this ever-so-short EP. With plenty of retro instrument tones to spare, APTBS tips their hat to bands of the 80's and gives us one hell of a release to turn our speakers down (or up) at with the Onwards To The Wall EP.

Bursting out of the gate with a hard-hitter, "I Lost You" is the first track on the CD, and this song is magnificent from the get-go. A fiery hot bass line is set down by Dion Lunadon, and Jay Space (Justin Weilmeister) starts and keeps things loud and lively on his drum kit. The tremolo guitar tones would be post-rock-esque if the song was half the tempo it is, but the song literally races by, and the way Oliver Ackermann bends his notes is far too dramatic for slowly drifting instrumental music anyway. It fits perfectly in with the raucous feedback in the choruses and his own, wailing voice, though, and the guitar's tones shift and change and layer so much that towards the end, it doesn't sound like one, or two, but maybe six guitars all blasting at max volume. Albeit deafening, it's a little disappointing when the song hits a sudden end and then a divebomb on the guitar, because the song itself is so absorbing and exhilarating that the end really seems like it will and should never arrive.

"Nothing Will Surprise Me" has a great deal more experimentation on guitar than any other track on the release, which is saying a lot for Ackermann, because he goes all out on pretty much every track. The beginning of the song has his guitar ladened with tons of treble, a harsh sounding metallic squeal coupling with quick kick work by Jay Space and quicker bass plucking. A little further into the song, though, Ackermann's guitar squealing turns into an ominous groan and slight, echoic guitar tremolos pushed way into the background of the song, second to his heavily distorted voice. There's so much going on in this song that it gets difficult to keep up, especially at the speed that it races along, and the layering of the entire track itself is fantastic, causing a meager three instruments to sound like a full ensemble with guitars to spare and more amps than they know what to do with. It's a great song that satisfies the punk in any listener.

There really isn't a bad track on Onwards To The Wall. To a first-time post-punk listener, the songs might seem a bit repetitive, but there is some really amazing musicality in this release, and orchestration to die for, though it might be slightly difficult to tell through the wall of noise that A Place To Bury Strangers continuously pumps at you. What I was most impressed with was the broad range of instrumental tones, though - normally, I'm quite picky about what sounds good and what doesn't, but Ackermann and company were very spot on with what I liked, right down to the timbre of the snare. I could recommend this to just about anyone, and it's a very easy, very worthy listen.

Pick this up when it drops into stores, February 7th.

You can sample their sound on their Bandcamp.

Track Listing:
1) I Lost You
2) So Far Away
3) Onwards To The Wall
4) Nothing Will Surprise Me
5) Drill It Up

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