The intersection of punk and metal is an interesting one. It has spawned and influenced several iterations of metal. A lot of the subgenres we talk about on Heavy Blog can find some of its roots in punk. Thrash, death, sludge, grind, and all the cores can see some roots in punk music of the 70s and beyond in one fashion or another. What’s most interesting about that is the wild variety of sounds it has helped produce. From the fast-paced power chord chugging of thrash and death to the complete cacophony of pure noise from grind, punk has helped create quite the beast in our current music culture. It continues to influence sounds in new and interesting ways, such as the sludgy and punky post-metal from Seven Hundredth Unicorn.
The guitar and drums duo of Dave Lyon and Matt Downes out of Manchester, UK. They combine a lot of sludgy influences to make a high-octane version of what I would call post-metal. Their song structures definitely don’t follow the traditional verse-chorus-verse style we’ve all become used to. There’s clearly a strong punk influence not only in style but in attitude. There’s a lot of aggression to what they do that results in a brutally powerful sound of dirty guitars and pounding drums.
While it’s already been said a few times, there is a wide range of influences apparent on this record. The guitars and drums sound very dense and absolutely sludge-tastic. It’s a very big and aggressive sound that goes well with some aesthetic qualities they have. It combines really well with their aggressive attitude stemming from punk. It becomes especially apparent when you hear their lyrics discussing issues of media brainwashing and political overlords. Meanwhile, there’s also this overarching dour atmosphere as if everything they’re shouting about is a fruitless endeavor. It all combines into a pretty uncommon post-metal sound that’s unique enough to make you stick with it to the end.
The mash up of sounds makes any track particularly interesting to point to. “New World Disorder” starts off with the slow burn of a high-end riff that explodes into a pretty skronky and bassier version of the same riff. The drums accentuate the drive of the riff and really empower it. Any band that can break down a riff well is doing a good job, and Unicorn masterfully do it just to introduce the song. So already you’re talking about multiple variations of the same riff. That can be tough to pull off well, but the first 30 seconds of this song show off what the duo can do well. When you’re just two people, you have to know how to write a song well. If you’ve got the musical vocabulary, you can pull it off easily. This is what these guys do.
What really sells this record is the simple unique sound it has. Someday soon, Seven Hundredth Unicorn is going to be one of those bands where someone will ask you to define their sound and you just say, “Well…they sound like them!” Sure, you could break down individual ideas in any track, but that wouldn’t really be pithy or succinct. This is one of the most interesting sounds I’ve heard this year, and I’m pretty stoked to listen to the rest of their back catalog. Let this heavy post-sludge band be the soundtrack to your outrage at the world.
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Culture of Fear releases on April 26th. You can head on over to the Bandcamp page above to pre-order it!