is 43 mesmerizing minutes of pain as pleasure. You'll be checking the levels on your living room stereo from the moment "It is Nothing" pulls everyone in earshot through a vortex of groove-locked rhythms and back-spun power chords.
You'll be sucked in and blown away by the paranoid android pop of the album's first single "In Your Heart," the gorgeous gate-crashing melodies of "Keep Slipping Away", the apocalypse now effects of "Ego Death," the sinewy, sinister overtones of the title track and the firework finale flare-ups of "I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart."
A Place to Bury Strangers are a New York-based three-piece who slayed areas of the blogosphere with their eponymous 2007 debut. Apparently named the city’s loudest band, it’s hard to conjure up anyone who even comes close. The noise conjured up by Oliver Ackermann, Jonathan ‘Jono MOFO’ Smith and Jay Space has seen them tour with likeminded types such as Nine Inch Nails, MGMT, Holy Fuck, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and key influence, The Jesus & Mary Chain.
Exploding Head is one hell of a ride, carved from the finest aspects of shoegazing, psychedelia and noise. It was recorded at the band’s own Death By Audio space; Ackermann also has a sideline in customising guitar pedals by the same name, with the likes of TV on the Radio, U2 and My Bloody Valentine as customers. But APTBS have clearly kept the most effective pedals for themselves, creating all kinds of merry hell.
Whereas the first album had the casual observer pin the band down as a hybrid of Joy Division, Mary Chain and Sisters of Mercy, Exploding Head takes that blueprint and shoots its knee caps off. Throwing in Big Black, Dinosaur Jr and The Valentines to expand their palette, the inter-dimensional feedback of tracks such as Lost Feeling and single In Your Heart force you to keep your own head from being clean ripped off, while the shredding and vertiginous Ego Death makes you think other guitarists just aren’t bothered to find the sounds that APTBS simply toss out. Take, for example, the pure cluster bomb of glass shards that is Everything Always Goes Wrong, wherein melody is submerged sufficiently to spot a touch of pop. By the time you reach the final track, I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow of Your Heart, the pure carnage may just have burned you out.
Exploding Head is a rabid wolf of an album, one to make you stock up on the drugs, slip into your leathers and ride off into a pulsing, screeing, strobe-lit Armageddon, and puts APTBS up there with the likes of F*** Buttons as purveyors of truly beautiful noise. It will, literally, blow your mind. --Ian Wade
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