The rhythms on Reliquies – throbbing electro-beats, metal colliding with metal – are constructed with the deliberate omission of forward movement. Instead, Rotorvator seem to slam themselves against the side of a small prison cell, teeming with an energy that has nowhere to go, flailing fists into concrete walls and titanium doors. Catharsis rebounds off the pillars of distortion and is promptly reabsorbed. Rotorvator spend the 23 minutes like the subject of a sick experiment: what happens when ill thoughts are left to fester and multiply, gradually devouring the body they inhabit?
By the time the listener arrives on the scene, the specimen is already violence incarnate. The brain is no longer able to pull particular sounds into focus and send others to the periphery; everything floods in at maximum volume as a swirl of traffic noise, amplified blood circulation and hallucinated choirs. Melody thrashes to push its head above the surface of the din, somewhere between the crippling misery of black metal and the morbid, futuristic warning of a sci-fi horror soundtrack. The sensation never lifts – distortion presses against my skull in a sandpaper head massage, sabotaging my perception of depth and powers of rational thought. I flinch at the flying daggers of lead guitar and question whether I’m imagining some of the more subtle chinks and clangs of percussion.
It’s not always a negative when a record seems to drag itself through its own running time. In truth, the 23-minute duration feels double that, and that’s undoubtedly a consequence of being in a constant state of sensory overload. I never acclimatise to the hostility; I never shrink to accommodate such a cramped and claustrophobic space. My eventual relief from Reliquies is as euphoric as the listening experience itself. I feel my body uncurl and my ears gulping at the quiet, renewed in my appreciation of the acoustic equilibrium that graces my life outside of Rotorvator.