Adieu to the noise merchants.
So it goes.
Belfast punk/metal/noise band Comply or Die have announced that they have split up after six years.
The reasons aren’t clear, although one band member has said that “the last 18 months have been like treading water waiting to get these tracks completed.”
Comply or Die have always kept people guessing. Their first LP was a straight ahead Drive Like Jehu influenced hardcore album, while the ‘Invocation’ EP blended Bl’ast with The Dead C.
2011’s ‘Depths’ was an impressive meld of Unsane, Explosions in the Sky and Slomatics, along with the ‘Sixes/Three Suns’ single (reviewed here) showing more metal influences (pity the production was so shit).
With this being their final offering, where have they gone on this one?
A minute of drone, pedal effects and power chords greet the listener when ‘Meridian’ begins. The drums come in and give an air of form to proceedings before the main riff begins.
Immediately, you notice that this is a heavier and bleaker Comply or Die. One who are reacting to extreme pressure from forces beyond their control. The vocals are more desperate, and lines like “Stand at the edge of the world/Cut in a course for the sun” betray an apocalyptic feel.
Around the 4.40 mark, the riffing becomes even more frantic and the song climaxes with even more deranged vocals and the feeling that the narrator’s time has come. As an opener, it sets the scene perfectly.
‘Argonaut’ is a more Mastodon influenced number which never lets up with the barked, hectoring vocals of lines such as “Send out your faith/Searching your soul/The chasm to cross/Is as dark as is wide.” The guitar tone is suitable dirty and (oddly enough) crusty sounding in places.
‘Cultus’ sounds like an amalgamation of two earlier C.O.D songs ‘Chains’ and ‘Like a Snake’ being mangled by High on Fire. Pure, utter aggression and desperation
‘Iron Mountain’ fulfils the same role that ‘Vermin’ did on the last album: the slow, doomy and grinding number. Lyrically, it seems to deal with a character who is reduced to staccato screaming to articulate his point to a world that abandoned him a long time ago: “Fear, damned birth/Fell from light…Not against/Facing circumstances/I am/What I want it to be.”
Riff wise, it’s mix of slow doom, post punk (the bass run around the 4.10 mark is pure Section 25) and filthy crust. You could imagine Greg Anderson headbanging to this with his crusty mates in the Southern Lord office.
Closer ‘Dagon’ goes back to their hardcore/noise rock roots. It’s the sort of thing you’ve heard them do many times, but it’s a nice way to bring things full circle. It closes the record on a finite note. The battle has been won.
A common criticism was the vocals. Indeed, His Editorialness once stated that “The vocals seem a bit of a bolt on…Some real aggro in there wouldn’t go amiss.” It’s obvious the band have taken this on board, as the vocals scream and pierce the listener in a way that would have been unthinkable around the time of the first album.
The cover (by Claire Miskimmin from Girls Names) is a clear reference to ‘Times of Grace’ by Neurosis. I’d prefer the “Master of Puppets as drawn by Raymond Pettibone” style of ‘Depths’, but this does a good job in letting listeners know what they’re in for.
Comply or Die have finally fulfilled their potential. They’ve upped the ante in every department and left us wanting more. You need this album. Just a shame we won’t hear the whole thing live.
So it goes.
3.9 / 5 – Christopher Owens ::: 07/06/14