Loud, fast & noisy.
Allow me to reveal how the sausage is made for a moment.
Taking up jogging regularly has significantly changed how I listen to music, and what kind of music I listen to. Back in the day, when I was an unfit lump of mashed potatoes, I listened to music with weird time signatures and beat changes pretty often. But now, due to the jogging that has granted me the physique of some Greek demigod, I find myself drawn more to music with an emphasis on a driving, relatively-consistent, beat. This is why my Spotify is full of bands like LCD Soundsystem and La Roux, rather than King Crimson and The Mars Volta. So I tend to rate albums more favourably if they’re good albums to run to. Especially if they’re fast and unrelenting. Speaking of adjectives, let’s describe New Waters’ new album, 'Experience'.
I can safely say that, overall, I liked this album a great deal. ‘Experience’ is a more-or-less half-hour of short, intense, and noisy hardcore songs that don’t overstay their welcome; all with the odd experimental sequence added in. The Wikipedia entry for this band describes them as ‘thrashcore’, but frankly I care about the difference between hardcore and "thrashcore" about as much as the difference between paediatricians and podiatrists: the more you talk about them, the less I trust you. Anyway, the album’s ten tracks are chock full of loud-as-shit, aggressive hardcore with chord progressions and simple riffs that are as effective as they need to be. Personally, I preferred the more mid-paced songs of the album, like opener 'Bet', or the more detailed 'Sewed My Mouth Shut', where the band use the longer song lengths to work in some nice post-metal vibes here and there. Not to suggest that the shorter, more chaotic songs aren’t fun, of course - they most certainly are. 'Languish', 'Tirade', and 'Ruin' in particular don’t have any lofty ambitions, but they’re an intense couple of songs that are in-your-face and over just as soon as they start.
If I was to nitpick - and you had better believe that I am - a few portions of the album were a little grating. For instance, I found that 'No Rest' is just a little too noodle-y for my taste, as the extra complications the track throws in the form of that weird bridge second and the extended, jagged pauses towards the track’s end don’t do anything for me at all. Another moment that really took me out of the nice, comfortable spike pit this album comfortably tucked me in to is the outro of ‘Ravens’. The track is yet another balls to the wall smash, until that horrid outro that I can only describe as “Blues as played by a very sedated Michael J. Fox.”
The fact that I’m clearly finding this album hard to describe is in no way my own fault. If this review seems rushed, it’s not at all related to my anthropology essay that’s due for university next week, and it’s really because this album is intense, messy (in a nice way) but also not that particularly memorable. While still solid, that makes it hard to criticise in a very interesting way. This may be in part to me not being a massive hardcore listener, but almost (keyword there) none of the ten songs on the album stuck in my head for longer than an hour or so after listening, especially as distinct songs. If you want an example of an extremely memorable, intense hardcore record that differentiates its tracks well enough, look at Nails’ most recent album, 'You Will Never Be One Of Us'. There is something notable to remember about almost every single song on that album, and it's a release whose sound is basically like listening to yourself getting punched in the face. If you want an example that hasn’t been used about a billion times before, take Cursed’s album, 'II'.
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However, there are two songs on the album that I stick out pretty well, those being 'Kinahmi' and the titular 'Experience'. This isn’t a massive deal, but if I had my way, those songs would be swapped around on the tracklisting. Not that I don’t like either of them - I very much like both and the album is somewhat starved for memorable songs - but the title song 'Experience' reeks a little of the band forcing itself to alter their sound drastically in order to create an epic, summative closing track, whereas 'Kinahmi' fits snugly into that category without having to try so hard. Something about those epic backing synths in ¾ taps into my fucking brain, man. The song feels like it ends on a much more satisfying climax than 'Experience', which kind of fizzles out towards the end, Which is a shame because I dig a well-placed saxophone as much as anybody else does.
I know that its perhaps a poor structural choice to end a review on two negative paragraphs, but you have to listen to me when I tell you that I did enjoy this New Waters album overall. While there’s almost no songs on it that I’d be able to hum back for you if you asked me to a week after writing this piece, 'Experience' really is a blast to listen to.
'Experience' is out now.