One of the biggest selling points in modern metal and heavy music is the culmination of influences. As a community we often find ourselves seeking a band that marries the sounds of two or three other things we like. It’s a creative exercise we all succumb to. Whether the ‘for fans of’ recommendations catch your interest or not is an interesting thought experiment as well. Did the band pull too starkly in the less preferred direction? Did the person recommending it to you miss the mark or cherry pick too heavily? Or was it simply less interesting than you anticipated? Your peanut butter and pickle sandwich not tasting as well as you thought it would.
With Centuries latest effort The Lights of this Earth are Blinding they created something utterly bizarre. At a glance, this is a blistering hardcore album straddling the tendencies of KEN Mode and Noisem with a strong resemblance to their labelmates Baptists. As you listen closely, however, you will find Centuries has more on the table than their contemporaries. While plenty of relative acts opt to keep their doom and noise influences separate from their hard-hitting brand of hardcore and grind, Centuries use this album to explore the space these genres can collate. Unabashedly pouring their influences into this album. Things that have no place in a melting pot together find themselves being fused into an amalgamation of things you’d find on a Southern Lord Sampler.
The experience of this album is unmatched in its sonic texture and it’s a demanding listen. At the start of the album, the first few tracks lead you on. Some stuff to tour on and rock out to at a local hall or dive bar this summer, no doubt. By the time you reach the midpoint of the album, however, it becomes clear you were being toyed with. While Centuries are heavily invested in your desire to mosh, they will take your breakdowns and fuck with them at your expense. The buildup to your next outburst in the pit gives way to feedback, larger than life basslines and drumlines that feel like standing next to a train. Relentlessly being emboldened by toms and rides, with the snares and China hits feeling less and less likely as the band fades into disgusting feedback loops of sheer noise. At this point, there is no coming back to your regularly scheduled program of moshable hardcore.
The album continues to twist itself as closely as it can to resemble a doom or drone album. Repeatedly slowing down, fading out, letting the feedback ring through or diving into an acoustic passage. There’s some opt-in headbanging here as Centuries tries to beckon their way into the rhythms of Sleep or hypnosis of Earth. Yet, they never fully cross the threshold into the genres they’re wading in. Dragging back to the bout of hardcore that kicked off this album on a handful of occasions, but now without the commitment, they showed in the first few tracks. Worse yet, it cheapens the brand of drone and doom the album is desperately trying to explore. When they get into it it’s dry and resonant. Their bite gives way to this arid and crisp sound. It’s the sonic equivalent of a sandstorm. But too seldom do they fully double down and commit to these ideas, as noteworthy as they may be.
All of the elements for something truly interesting is present. The hardcore is fierce and the doom is more than enough to stand on its own. But even perfect execution couldn’t save this album from being uncomfortable in its pace and ambitions. Whether that means The Lights of this Earth are Blinding is ahead of its time or a total wash, one thing is clear. Listening to this in full will stick with you. It’s a perfect insight into what Doom and Hardcore could sound like as collaborative sound, but I don’t think we’re ready for it either way. Regardless, this band is promising and ambitious. Should we find ourselves listening to Converge meets Bongripper in the near future, we’ll be able to point to this album as a precursor to the sound and hopefully, Centuries continues to lead the way
The Lights of this Earth Are Blinding is out now on Southern Lord Records and you can purchase the album here