It was at King Alfred’s pub in Southampton that I first heard Art Of Burning Water, during a run of UK dates late last year. What I remember is this: a muddy gush of volume surging out of PA and amplifiers with crooked scraps of hardcore jutting out of it; guitar contorted into jagged stabs and discordant groans, vocals trampled mercilessly into the noise, drums keeping the spill within the vague, rusty constraints of song-form. Nothing too drastic has changed in the transition to the recorded format – the riffs have been permitted to emerge and protrude from within the sludge a tad, although much of the sound still abides by its status as a violent and obscure grey matter; screams buried by their own low fidelity, splurges of white noise adding an ugly serration to the guitars on either side.
Such a sound is delightfully applied throughout. “You Won’t Know Till You’ve Cried” clears its throat on feedback before stumbling over one, solitary note for 90 seconds straight – panicked film dialogue raises the pressure until it hammers the door down, eventually bursting open as the album’s very first cathartic opening. Meanwhile, “The Live You Live” – this reviewer’s particular favourite – throws itself back and forth between winding, quick-fretted stampedes and pure atonal hurricane, embarking on a terrifying pendulum swing between fits of rage and sheer loss of control. It’s all over in 27 minutes, scorching the silence to follow with its gloomy (and thankfully momentary) tinnitus imprint.