Words By: Tim Mead
Californian noise rock band HEALTH drop their sixth studio album DEATH MAGIC today. It’s been 5 years since the band’s last full length release and its clear they’ve been pushing towards the pop side of the genre since then.
If you know what noise rock is, you’re in for a treat. If you don’t, I’ll explain the idea for you. It starts with spacey euphoric vocals over the top of surprisingly pop sounding electronic beats and produced synth lines, which sounds pretty normal, but every so often you’re suddenly thrust into this world which feels something like a bad trip, or being inside an exploding spaceship.
Listening to this album is a full on experience. HEALTH go from energetic melancholic beats and pitch shifted synth lines to pounding industrial bass hits which will blow your eardrums if you don’t keep an eye on the volume control of your headphones. With track names like SALVIA, NEW COKE, HURT YOURSELF and DRUGS EXIST, its clear HEALTH are attempting to create a visceral reaction with this release, and they have definitely hit the mark.
One stand out was SALVIA, beginning with sharp rapid-fire beats, akin to the sound of a machine gun, it quickly dives in and out of calm washy synth parts. You never quite feel safe and it almost endures a fear of what the track has in store. Whilst it might be startling to listen to this track in isolation, it really makes sense in the context of the entire album. To appreciate these tracks its really worth committing to the whole thing start to finish.
Another track worth mentioning is COURTSHIP II, which grabs you by the throat from the outset with frantic blast beats which feel like they’re straight out of a speed metal track. These are again contrasted against low soothing vocals before diving into synthesised white noise which tear your ears apart. It’s quite a disorienting experience.
DEATH MAGIC is definitely worth checking out, whilst I wont be cranking it in my car on the way to work every day, it stood out as one of the most memorable albums I’ve heard this year.