Angular, sneery fuckers from Lahndahn town, The Art Of Burning Water have been toiling away for a decade or thereabouts.
Occasionally they delivering fragmented transmissions of their Noise Rock-inspired metallic bludgeon when you least expect it from whatever bunker/dungeon/borstal they spend their time locked away in.
They’ve worked in near obscurity for most of their existence. Which, to be fair, has worked in their favor – or perhaps in your favor if you’re hearing them for the first time here – as that self-same, almost hermetic approach has allowed them to fine tune their assault in their own sweet time.
“This Disgrace” is album number four, and their strongest offering yet.
With eight tracks in under half an hour, it strolls in, batters you and fucks off in the blink of an eye. There’s not a tremendous amount of fat on these bones, and they’ve finally delivered the lean,mean killing machine they’ve promised to for years.
AOBW have the brain to brawn ratio bang on. The caveman ferocity in the riffing is welded to a super tight and musically articulate rhythm section for one thing, and the songs are designed to satisfy the ears and the gut in equal measure.
AOBW do not simply flail around without giving the listener something to latch on to – just check out the surprisingly catchy “We Failed” for one, and note how it never sacrifices brute force even at the most melodic points (although “melodic” is a relative term here).
“Lacerations To Hands And Faith” changes tone from a swift act to violence to a lurching dread, offering up a killer headbanging riff in the process that would make the likes of Old Man Gloom drool.
That band are actually a handy enough comparison if, heaven forfend, you might be looking for one.
The same slightly leftfield approach to heroically brutal guitar sludge, the same occasional indulgence in samples and noise – though AOBW reign that tendency in unless absolutely necessary.
In the glorious Sleep meets Steel Pole Bathtub melee of “Since His Collapse”, they emit the same psychotic glee that the Hydra Head super group exude at their best. Overall however the comparison is more in approach than in sonics – and AOBW are very much their own men.
Is this Metal Ireland material? Yeah. Fuck yeah, this sounds like metal to me – it’s the kind of music we should be classing under the “sludge” heading rather than mongos with Matamps singing about dragons and bongs.
Nowt wrong with that at all, don’t get me wrong, but this is a more mischievous warping of the kind of elements at work in some of that genre. It fucks with traditions and delivers with a keen thirst for blood. But at the end of the day it still gets the fists waving and the head banging.
Heirs perhaps to the throne vacated by the late, great Fudge Tunnel – Art Of Burning Water would probably just smash the thing up and use the wood to smash up their instruments.
If you’re looking for an album to kick start your 2013 with a pair of steel toes, “This Disgrace” could be just the record you need.
4 / 5 – ::: Jamie Grimes ::: 5/1/2013