“There’s too many faces inside the mirror” is shouted, strained and twinned with a deceptively lulling bass as Gnod’s latest release opens. “And I cannot decide which one I want to be today.”
The sharp descent from coolly post-punk experimentation into a perverse and discordant war march matches this surreal declaration in unpredictability and violence.
Manchester collective Gnod have had dalliances with brute force before. But here on The Mirror they trample off the spectrum and into weird, uncharted territory, marking a severe departure far outside the boundaries of the already-enigmatic krautrock previously put to record.
The Mirror builds piece by piece into towering hysteria. Gnod borrow and advance the most progressive and anxiety-inducing elements of experimental black metal. Jarring noise and feedback linger and hum with menace, or intertwine into a disarming feedback loop that's offset by blaring sirens, reverb, and echo.
There are hints of Sonic Youth and Rat at Rat R, at their most viciously No Wave - brutal drone and despondence - and of Glenn Branca, with its very deliberate composition just beneath the surface-level noise.
So it's not easy listening. There is a lot to appreciate here: Gnod have proven themselves adept in new areas, at carefully crafting tension and unease that hovers on the precipice of climax, in what's the heaviest record of the year so far.