Drainland | ‘And So Our Troubles Began’
The entity that is Drainland has been lurking at the fringes of the Dublin hardcore/DIY scene for about four years now. Despite line-up changes, temporary member departures and a host of release difficulties, their unhinged brand of metallic heft is as hard to pigeon-hole as ever.
With last year’s ‘Swine’ demo having made a fine representation of their sound, the release of this 10″ is roughly synched with their split with the UK’s excellent Grinding Halt.
A case of feast or famine, there’s now a little glut of releases with their name on it following years of having very little available; so there’s hardly a better time to check them out.
If you’ve caught them live, chances are you’ve gotten a taste of how effective they can be. It comes as a relief to report that this is one of the finest releases I’ve yet heard this year full stop, and with it they’ve proved themselves just as capable on record as on stage.
If you haven’t heard them before, rest easy in the knowledge that, while far from metal by numbers, they’re sufficiently twisted, aggressive and riff-laden enough to sit comfortably on this site.
What really band apart from their fellows is quite a deadly serious approach to both sound and presentation. The group has clearly take pains to produce riffage that is as bleak as humanly possible, with delayed, sustained guitar and a penchant for noise/ambient samples being deftly mixed in with good, old-fashioned crunch.
The ‘dirgecore’ label they’ve acquired is pretty close to the mark, and it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into ensuring a guitar tone that’s so filthy it sounds like it’s half decomposing but which still retains plenty of depth.
For the most part, the record is full of fast, hammering sections of anger and populated with guitar chords that unsettle right down to the pit of your stomach.
Lyrically, it’s pitch black on all levels, with a serious amount of conviction evident in the pair of throats employed that literally snarl out of the speakers. Add to this mix a morass of malign noise samples and the result is a record dripping with negativity and venom.
Drawing parallels with other bands is pretty difficult. References to Dystopia wouldn’t be far off the mark in terms of outlook and unrelenting negativity.
However, the guitar playing and sampling here is more obviously crafted and worked over, with lingering notes and subtle touches of decay adding greatly to the effect.
The group has gone to the trouble of uploading a song from the split to the cult Japanese horror ‘Jigoku’ to Youtube, and their pitch black atmosphere is well represented by the unnerving visual tones of that film.
Nowadays it seems there are countless heavy hardcore bands that go down the “epic and expansive” route of riffing, but Drainland opt more for a style of total suffocating enclosure within furious sections, before alienating the listener with some weird sounding chord pattern. Their approach is an odd one that can be perplexing at first, but which succeeds brilliantly on subsequent listening.
The slow stomp and wide eyed terror of ‘Puritan Hex’ just radiates anxiety, and leaves that most elusive of marks on the listener’s mind; real uneasiness. Clearly having been given some serious mastering and lasting a perfectly short and sweet twenty minutes, minor classic status is pretty much assured.
It’s rare that a band should be granted Album of the Month title on here before they actually release an official full-length, but this one heartily deserves it’s place among those few. It really is perfectly rounded in it’s malignancy. While they’re hardly going to be storming the cover of any glossy magazines anytime soon, they’ve produced a proper little gem of hate and gnawing stress. Packaging an anti-depressent pill with any forthcoming album would be fitting, in a good way.
4.4 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 10/05/10