A long time ago someone called Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers “the loudest band in New York.” The trio have been in the heavy shoegaze game so long that the exact source has long been relegated to some dark corner of the internet, but the sentiment still remains – this is a band that, on two studio albums and eight EPs, has totally ripped it up.
It won’t surprise you that the band’s latest EP Onwards to the Wall is loud, it’s really loud, it’s five walls of sound that each feel like they’re collapsing in a slow-motion earthquake. Think My Bloody Valentine’s massive, eardrum-fracturing waves of decibel-meter-breaking guitar scuzz, and think Radiohead’s atmospheric–yes–creepy, underwater take on the tightly interlocked drum-and-bass drive of krautrock bands like Neu! and you might be onto something. Think about the dark pop sensibility of post-punk too – these are catchy songs, almost danceable in a Joy Division kind of way, the surprisingly enjoyable but resolutely morose soundtrack to your own personal post-apocalyptic wasteland – and you’re almost there. Onwards to the Wall is great because it can’t be slotted in anywhere besides right amongst A Place To Bury Strangers’ own oeuvre – it sits on the border of dark industrial clang and drone and expansive space-rock otherworldliness.
We guess we could just say “really good,” though. It’s solid all the way through, but the EP’s first three tracks are probably its strongest – the distorted bass heartbeat that keeps the cutting guitar haze of “I Lost You” from spiraling into the abyss is utterly hypnotic, as are the motorik drumming and inscrutable, wailing atmospheric drones (Theremin? Electric cello?) that make the title track sound like ghostly transmissions from another world. Maybe A Place to Bury Strangers are just the loudest band in New York because their music is so absorbing, so hypnotic, that it demands you turn up the volume yourself. And trust us, you’ll want it loud.
Stream ‘Onwards to the Wall’ in its entirety here.