Bright New Disease

Sacred Bones
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. You Are the Beginning
02. Weaponized Grief
03. No
04. The Look is a Flame
05. The Sinners of Hell (Jigoku)
06. Narcotic Shadow
07. A Man from the Earth
08. Endless Death Agony
09. Not Surprised

Now this is a meeting of heavy minds. Japan's legendary feedback warriors BORIS have been around for over 30 years now and have amassed an extraordinary and diverse catalogue of music, including collaborations with MERZBOW, SUNN O))) and even THE CULT's Ian Astbury (see 2010's "BXI" EP for details!).

New York's UNIFORM are simply one of the most radical and exciting bands of the last decade. Peddlers of seething, noise-powered post-industrial punk, they have released four albums to date, plus three acclaimed collaborations with THE BODY. In fact, these two bands have such rich and twisted legacies that this joining of forces was always destined to be, at the very least, intriguing. As it is, "Bright New Disease" offers to a vast, jolting dose of crackpot metal fury, as BORIS and UNIFORM assimilate each other's trademarks and spew them back out in the snottiest way imaginable.

Rightly or not, BORIS are best known for causing mischief on the fringes of doom metal, with seminal albums like "Feedbacker" and "Pink". On "Bright New Disease", the Japanese collective eschew all that repurposed evil blues. Instead, it is UNIFORM's bleak and vitriolic aesthetic that dominates here, while the Japanese band's speaker-crushing attack winds itself up into a state of chaotic, punked-out thrash. Opener "You Are the Beginning" sums up the whole project in four breathless minutes: furious, feedback-drenched and proudly off-the-rails, it's a maxed-out and malevolent speed metal skulls-splitter, and a world away from BORIS's more experimental efforts. "Weaponized Grief" strips things down ever further, for two minutes of blistering hardcore, with UNIFORM's Michael Berdan screaming himself inside out. On the fast-as-hell "No", the two bands conjure the specters of POISON IDEA and early NAPALM DEATH, with a mid-song descent into slow-motion hell, and a final sprint to the finish that is gloriously raw and obnoxious. In contrast, "The Look is a Flame" is an amorphous, freeform squall that reeks of urban paranoia and collapsing buildings, with unnerving clean vocals shimmering in the background and more piercing howls of electrified noise. "The Sinners of Hell" maintains the formless onslaught, with cavernous bottom end and a swirling storm of discord, before "Narcotic Shadow" takes BORIS and UNIFORM somewhere else entirely, with stuttering electronics, hyper-wired industrial scree and a post-punk pulse redolent of early CABARET VOLTAIRE. Overdrive and distortion provide "A Man from the Earth" with a dense, dark backdrop, slowly and purposefully leading toward a final squeal of what sounds like synthesized bagpipes. Returning to the first few tracks' disintegrating thrash, "Endless Death Agony" is swollen with primitive, deathly riffing, and boasts a brilliantly deranged guitar solo.

Only the closing "Not Surprised" comes close to anything these two bands have delivered previously. Drawn-out, excruciating and sonically feral, it shares pace and power with BORIS's doomier efforts, but thanks to an unhinged vocal from Berdan and more dense, excoriating noise, it comes across as a uniquely hostile sound-clash, replete with moments of disorientating madness.

"Bright New Disease" may not be exactly what admirers were expecting from this team-up, but it definitely chimes with both bands' idiosyncratic approach. It's incredibly noisy, riffed-up to the eyeballs, and quite unlike anything else around. This disease demands to be spread far and wide.

Author: Dom Lawson
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