Mother of Red Light

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

1. Fill Me
2. Child of God
3. Swallowed Conscience
4. Her Womb Lays Still
5. Inbred
6. Cold Prayers
7. Psalm of Life
8. Return Me (My Body)
9. The Walls, They Whisper

Oh my coagulating Christ, this is nasty. A six-man project from Chicago, METH. have two low-key releases under their belt, but "Mother of Red Light" will be most people's first taste of this band's newly birthed sonic world, and it's one that is likely to linger in the back of the throat, like some infernal, throbbing ulcer. Summoning foulness and spite at the midpoint between noise rock, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN-style spazz-metal, grindcore, powerviolence, the surreal nihilism of SWANS and the no-wave movement, METH. are instantly identifiable as the kind of band that could either become incalculably huge through sheer force of individuality or that will slip between genre cracks and end up being a cult concern and little more. Judging by the way this music lunges and stabs from its pitch-black starting point, this band are unlikely to give a fuck either way. Like I say, this is nasty.

It starts with an eerie, slow-building drone; a predictable way to indicate that something horrible is approaching, but it works superbly here, as clanging, dissonant guitar stabs build up a head of steam before, suddenly, the song snaps into gear, a discordant riff and loping groove dragging things proudly off course. There's a hint of industrial bleakness to this wall of angry noise, but after a dead stop and another creepy slow-build, the METH.'s next move is a scattershot collage of vitriol and flagrant guitar abuse, utterly human in its sloppy, chaotic gait but thrillingly pissed off to the point of implied dehumanization. Whichever wasp flew up this band's urethra, it must have been lethally effective. "Child of God" continues the avalanche of popped-vein anti-riffs, before the band's vocalist audibly loses his shit amid a stop-start, swamp metal funeral march that works itself up to a furious crescendo of incandescence. "Swallowed Conscience" offers a particularly twisted and unsettling detour; half frenzied noisecore jabbing, half somnambulant bad dream, it borders on a new form of post-punk grimoire, this band's artful instincts casting sinister shadows in every direction, as feedback whistles and howls and METH.'s rhythm section lay down another monolithic backwards groove.

In contrast, "Her Womb Lays Still" starts as an all-out attack, replete with feral DILLINGER-style riff-twists, skittering blastbeats and enough screaming to alarm your neighbors, should you be listening at appropriately monstrous volume. Predictably unpredictable, it then darts down a side street and morphs into a barrage of claustrophobic sludge, tension mounting all the while. The following, "Inbred", exhibits shades of OXBOW and UNSANE, but with an almost gothic tinge to the reverb-drenched, spidery guitar motifs that ripple and fizz in the background. Elsewhere, the truly berserk "Return Me (My Body)" is the album's most overtly extreme moment, with a backbone of razor-slash blasting and enough warped noise leaking through the cracks to unsettle a MERZBOW completist. By the time you reach grueling closer "The Walls, They Whisper", you will either be a very broken human being or a confirmed METH. fan. An incredibly shrewd but seemingly authentic blend of familiar, left-field hardcore tropes and out-and-out avant-noise insanity, "Mother of Red Light" is so aggressively steeped in wrongness that you could be forgiven for worrying slightly about the mental health of those involved. But then you read the accompanying press release, and it says that "each song is a direct portal into the psyche of the plebeian-turned-Davidian leader who now wrestles with his tortured spirit and incestuous infatuation with The Choir Of Red Light's evil matriarch." And somehow that makes everything alright. This is a monstrous piece of work. Enter at your own risk.

Author: Dom Lawson
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