A Place To Bury Strangers – Onwards To The Wall

Is progression always a good thing? Whilst it could be argued that New York noise rockers A Place to Bury Strangers have hardly changed their sound, I’m going to argue the opposite: this does sound different. A little bit. It’s essentially their first two releases without the electronic bits. And much heavier.

You know sometimes it’s nice just to fucking go for it, and on this EP APTBS do just that ‘Onwards to the Wall’ is a clear case of a band flexing their already sizeable muscles – this is pure balls-out-Joy-Division-fans-with-some-brand-new-mega-fuzzy-effects-pedals-noise-rock. It’s music for the live arena, utterly drenched in feedback. Like the Jesus and Mary Chain playing in one of the engines of a Boeing 747. This needs to be listened to loud, and once it’s over (fairly quickly, it must be said – 5 songs, 16 minutes) the effects of it will remain. Mainly tinnitus.

This is very solid stuff, and whilst it is unlikely to win APTBS many new fans – there are parts of the EP which perhaps showcase a slightly newer element to the band, the title track being the obvious example. What’s that a female voice? Yes! The voice belongs to Alanna Nuala of labelmates ‘Moon’, and what a lovely voice she has too. It adds a whole other dimension to the EP. Nuala’s virtuous tones couple with Oliver Ackerman’s lazy British-esque drawl help create a surprising a track – the guitars flirt dangerously with the relentless, precision-like drumming, this isn’t quite APTBS, this is The Cure; this is Joy Division. It’s somewhat beautiful yet dissonant – it’s a love song for nihilists. ‘Drill it Up’ is a glorious final song, it builds everything up into a huge distorted and deformed crescendo. Even the vocals are distorted in a somewhat typically ominous and apocalyptic fashion. I want APTBS to be the soundtrack to my death. That would be awesome.

Okay, maybe I lied in the intro, barring a couple of moments, this doesn’t really sound different, this is APTBS doing exactly what they’ve always done. But like I said right at the very beginning, is progression always a good thing? Of course that is a question to which the answer cannot be as pithy as merely yes or no, but in the case of APTBS I’m going to say no. What makes APTBS so good cannot be messed with – the fans want the feedback and the noise and the 80’s throwback vocals, for one obvious reason: it’s fucking immense. APTBS are merely giving us what they’ve always given us, and why wouldn’t they?


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