Desolat – Get Sick and Let Me Watch You Die


Noise rock is an old man’s game if we’re to analyse the age profile of its current progenitors. But “dad rock” this is not. With a background in nostalgia for the 1990s, a love of hardcore DIY ethics, and a racket that can appeal to the metal fans, this niche sub-genre is the true successor to grunge. In other words, it’s more likely to appeal to fans of Neurosis rather than Necrophagist, yet those that grew up on Nirvana can also find much to admire. For Austrian trio, Desolat, they’ve already achieved a career highpoint by joining the roster of bands on Reptilian Records for their second album alongside Dwarves and Electric Frankenstein.

It seems every noise rock LP starts with the band plugging in their guitar leads, and Desolat are no different. The bass in ‘Doomsday Clock’ is louder than the sound of plastic wheels dragged over an uneven surface of crushed stones. A five-chord riff buzzes with no great flamboyance – that’s because the bass and drums do the job of keeping the rhythms together. We must wait until 02:30 before the hysterical vocals screech through the mix like the latest album from Thou. Is it a triumph or a deficit of imagination to produce a song of nearly four minutes with just one riff?

This genre of music is a boon to bass players everywhere and gives four-stringers a louder voice in the collective will of the group. Again, the approach to guitar riffing in ‘Time for Darkness’ is simple and devoid of flair, but it does the job. Listen out for the impressive transition at 01:31 to a faster bass-led tempo. Then, the guitarist roasts his guitar like Killing Joke in their comeback prime of the 2000s. The object here is to demonstrate how a three-piece can create the noise levels of larger rock band. At the opposite end of the scale is ‘Pregnant Meth Addict with Cancer’. This is punk rock with a depressive sludge metal vibe. But there’s no harrowing pain or trauma in this music. Instead, Desolat prefer to floor their audience with disdain for the mainstream. The spiky vocals belong in a punk band from the late 1970s. They’re not the first and won’t be the last art collective to realise that most people in the world are idiots.

Thirty-eight minutes of edgy and unpretentious noise ought to be a thrilling affair, but this music’s main weakness is the way it can become sedate. The motto for ‘This Band Is Your Yoga’ could be, “Our religion is rock & roll but of the uglier variety.” Why is noise rock popular again in the underground? Probably because it has no interest in studio wizardry and respects the heritage of hardcore as much as the freedom of writing music with no desire to impress the TikTok masses. Standout track, ‘Great White Northern Shitlicker’, is a neck-bobbing noise affair with social commentary interspersed among gut-wrenching screams and starts like a transition song on a sludge metal album. But it soon finds its unique identity and has the most modulations out of any song on the album with a saxophone improvisation and some biting guitar riffs. More songs like this would be more exciting. The riffs are often innocuous and too subservient to the shuddering bass guitar movements.

There’s no reason why this album should drag towards the end, but it might just be that so many artists are enjoying a renaissance in this type of rock, which leads to familiarity. Little of this music is dull or tedious, but it doesn’t excite much either. We haven’t heard the last of the noise rock phenomenon in 2024 after The Jesus Lizard announced that they’ll return with their first album in twenty-six years in September. It wouldn’t be disastrous if it matched the abrasive comfort of Get Sick and Let Me Watch You Die.


Verdict


Release Date: 14/06/2024

Record Label: Reptilian Records

Standout tracks: Time for Darkness; Two Elderly Brothers Killed a Young Mother; Great White Northern Shitlicker

Suggested Further Listening: Unsane – Visqueen (2007), Helmet – Strap It On (1990), Barren Womb – Chemical Tardigrade (2024)