As with many other folks, I love metal because of the sweet emotional releases it gives me. Despite the loud and chaotic nature of the genre, I feel a great catharsis after a good metal song. Even scientific studies have shown that metal fans feel the release of tension, anger, and a host of negative emotions after listening to metal music. For me, I find that the angrier the sound, the better I feel after a good track. This goes particularly for anything with political or sociological themes in the lyrics, especially if it’s an issue I feel strongly about or is even directly affecting me. While that can lead to wonderful experiences of burdens being lifted off you, it can so often be a little confusing, too. How did something so angry lead to a moment of zen? With that, let’s talk about Noisem and their newest record, Cease to Exist.
Since last hearing from them with 2015’s Blossoming Decay, the band has trimmed down from a five-piece to a trio, dumping former vocalist Tyler Carnes, bassist Billy Carnes, and guitarist Yago Ventura and handing both vocal and bass duties off to Ben Anft. According to brothers and respective drummer and guitarist Harley and Sebastian Phillips, this change has been quite positive as it has resulted in the band shedding some of its negative influences. Instead of taking negative emotions out on themselves or each other, they’ve channeled all of it into their music.
Aggressive doesn’t begin to describe this record. Certainly every Noisem record is a melodic cacophony of hate and anger, but this record feels particularly belligerent. As a result of the band slimming down, their sound has changed ever so slightly. These tracks are a bit simpler and straightforward than their previous records. They’re clearly trying to record the songs so that they sound like what they would live, something that seems extremely honest for any band to do. They’ve only got one guitar player, so the tracks really only include a single guitar part. There are sections of overdubbed guitar, but it still results in an album that can be angrier and wilders while still having a direction.
More to that point, everything sounds tighter on Cease to Exist. By trimming down your members, there’s a clarity that shines throughout. Guitarists don’t have to worry about stepping all over each other or getting slightly out of time. The vocals aren’t as overpowering on the record because there’s not quite as much to cut through. The rhythm section isn’t necessarily worried about getting drowned out. It’s a very egalitarian record and also oddly harmonious for a sound that relies on pure chaos.
To truly hear what this record can do, look at “Downer Hound”. The singular crunched guitar riff accompanied by a breakdown-style drum rhythm is pure and focused. It’s so simple and clear that you’re inclined to follow it. As slowly as a grind band is capable of, the energy ramps up until it reaches the peak blistering speed. Imagine a light rain swelling to a deluge. Now imagine that deluge is screaming at you about how the United States government does nothing to stop pharmaceutical companies from getting you addicted to their drugs for pure profit. It is the perfect combination of metal elements that enrages you for the 2:29 song but leaves you feeling something near relief at the end.
What should pop out to anyone is just how oddly accessible this record is. A lot of metal fans draw some kind of line at grind. To be fair, it can be a very dense genre and an extremely intense listen. This record combines a lot of elements of thrash and death to it that most metal fans could really enjoy. Bands that can teeter a lot of lines like Noisem does have to be very careful with their songwriting. It can be incredible or it can completely not work. Noisem puts the time and effort into what they do, and it shows through clearly. Cease to Exist is an incredible work. The musicianship and songwriting standout more than they have before on previous records for the band. The attitude is there just as it always has. Anything you could want out of a good underground sounding metal record is here. And it’s definitely the kind of record your mother would be horrified to find out you like. Embrace the anger and enjoy the grind.
Noisem’s Cease to Exist is out March 15 through 20 Buck Spin. You can purchase it through their Bandcamp.