In a musical world increasingly saturated with the slow drip of contemplative, gentle Americana; a world where the underground swells with singer-songwriters delicately pulling at both heartstrings and those of an acoustic guitar; where the mainstream bulges with faux-farmhand canoe-carrying country and introspective lip-trembling or beery, laddish late night rock embraces you’d be forgiven for occasionally thinking – well, this is all very lovely and well-crafted, and that is a nice beard but when was the last time a band tried to separate my head from my neck with the fuck-you end of a clawhammer?
Glasgow’s four year old Divorce are an absolutely horrible, frightening band and here on their debut full-length they make good on the psycho savagery of live shows with the likes of Part Chimp to deliver a migraine of an album that, across its nine tracks, offers up the sounds of sickness, of hate, frustration, of murder, of self-loathing, self-abuse and self-denial.
There are moments here that will challenge even the staunchest noise rock fan. ‘Coat Your Throat’ for instance, is a sci-fi fingering cake of congealed sex-juices, a formless wreck that sounds like jazz if jazz was built out of phlegm and punching; ‘Pencils Giant Pencils’ is a mostly instrumental wig-out that leads us down a very dark alley indeed before removing our faces with death metal shrieking during its closing moments; and opener ‘Cunts In A Circle’, which offers up grinding, powersaw guitar drone cut through with squealing pedal distortion is, as far as is imaginable, the sound of abattoirs and of political prisoners being slowly tortured to the brink of death by faceless, merciless black-suited creatures on obscure, lawless islands. There’s almost nothing but atonal scream ‘n’ screech to hold on to.
On The Melvins stomp of ‘Snob Value’, feedback towers over the cavorting musical shitstorm swirling beneath. It’s a frustrated, panicked loop of sonic torment that mutates slowly into a strangely celebratory funeral chant – the vocals here, despite or because of their harshness, a sneakily beautiful thing.
There’s more in the way of fun power-riffola to be found on the cheap-speed fuelled Bikini Kill serration of ‘Bill Murray’, which shares an opening with an ATD-I track (almost) before kicking in with a massive Seattle hook that’s capable of inducing a mild form of travel sickness.
Their finest moment here, though, is the Jesus Lizard frenetic, Shellac-heavy ring of persistent, insistent high-pitched rhythm rock that is the phenomenally aptly titled ‘Stab (Stabby) Stab’. It’s the sound of an art rock band pumped full of meth, shut in a folding bed and set on fire. It’s what In Utero sounded like at its most oppressive.
When the band wave their iron-fisted goodbyes on extended closer ‘Never Try Anything New At Least Once A Day’, a Sabbath or maybe Sleep-styled burn of slow and undeniable doomed fury, you’re left utterly battered, ears ringing, head pulsating, stomach turned.
These young Scottish pups are most definitely covered in all kinds of muck and if you fancy a change from politeness, from mustachioed self-analysis and moccasin wearing sonic smiles, from clapping along and humming the tunes, it’s time to get down there, among the filth and the fury, with them.