Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Shawn Biggs and Patrick Stolley
When a chainsaw speaks to another chainsaw, in the middle of a hailstorm, in a world made only of tin siding, that's what Oliver Ackermann and his New York City band A Place To Bury Strangers would call the softest whisper. You'd ask them to explain themselves and they'd reply, "What?" You'd ask them how that terribly rowdy, noisy scenario could be construed as a hushed portion of dialogue and they'd answer, "What?" A lot of time has been spent tabbing this the loudest band in the world and until they've been brought into close quarters - as Daytrotter did with the band in San Francisco the last week of February during the one-week Noise Pop Festival - the believability of that statement remains up for discussion and pessimistic guffawing, a tad heresy and altogether wishy-washy.
There is an abundance of truth behind every one of those claims crying out that you'll never hear again should you attend one of their gigs sans earplugs or other protective device. They employ liberal doses of the loud stuff, caking it onto the air as if it needed more seasoning or icing. They can't help it. It's an addiction that needs satisfying - the necessity to bring deafness to the world over. They put a ring into every tiny drum, sending ferocious vibrations out into all directions, brashly hammering all who come in contact with them into submission. It's gothic shoegaze, though the idea of gazing at ones shoes through the battlefield of dramatically defiant guitars and synths, the roaring drums and the almost afterthought vocals that go to show Ackermann as a man standing his ground amongst the chaotic abyss.
Where we found the band, forced to record everything in one room as is the norm for every Daytrotter studio, make the vocals another snippet of atmosphere, blended into the varnish as a mysterious taste, like the nuttiness or caramel hint that connoisseurs pull out of wines that to the layman just taste like wines. They surface as the fire over here and the fire over there subside for brief moments, most notably in the unreleased song "Never Going Down Again," where Ackermann is welcoming people to his world for a quick and painful walk-through, reminding them that there are scenes he can't hide and things they should know about him, most notably that he won't be sunk despite any nefarious attempts to do so. He's a ripper, slaughtering through the three minutes like a peel out, stripping the song down to the unbridled youthfulness of it all, sloppy and buzzed to the point where even the lashing feels like a rush that you'd get back in line for another hit of it. You put your hands up over your head, not to protect anything (you may even say to hell with it and tear the plugs out of your ears to get the bludgeoning that is right), but to better feel the changes in height and the weight of power.
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