Adzes – Climate // Capital (self-released, 27 February 2019)
Adzes – A Forest // Digging in the Dirt (self-released, 02 August 2019)
Adzes – No One Wants to Speak About It (digital: self-released, 29 May 2020; cassette: Tridroid Records, 02 July 2020)
Good afternoon! I’ve got a surprise in store for you today. Usually single-person recording artists leave a lot to desire as far as the quality of material AND sound quality are concerned. The same can often be said for musical entities with strong political leanings: no matter how valid their point may be, if all they are bringing to the table is a clone of raw punk or lo-fi black metal that’s already been done to death a million times, it’s unlikely to really grab my attention.
With Adzes (named for the primitive wood-hewing implement), self-described by its lone member as “anti-capitalist sludge,” what we find is lacking in quality in neither of those areas. Below we’ll take a trip through a pair of EPs he put together last year, followed by the project’s debut album which is set to be unfurled at the end of this week. Enjoy!
Early 2019’s Climate // Capital consists of a quartet of tracks designed to introduce Adzes to the world, both musically and philosophically. Filled with oversaturated, overdriven guitar and seismically tremorous bass; and overlaid with either a combination of spoken word and blackened vocals, just the harsh vocals, or even none at all, these compositions all tell a tale of modern horror: the struggle just to get by as a member of the working class in a system that is expressly configured to prevent exactly that from happening.
This was followed later in the year by A Forest // Digging in the Dirt, essentially a double-A-side single, with reinterpretations of the two songs identified in its title. The former starts out sounding a bit more ambient, with a reverby/chorusy guitar line against sustained synth notes, but as the drums and distorted bass enter, followed by layers of feedback and more distortion, this is clearly not quite The Cure you remember. However, the clean, melodic vocals here are very reminiscent of the original version, creating an eerie juxtaposition. The second song here gives a harsh, industrial quality to the drums and guitars (not to mention the semi-whispered lyrics), which is actually not as stark of a contrast to the electro-funk of Peter Gabriel‘s version as one might have expected.
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Which brings us to this year, and this week. Eight-track No One Wants to Speak About It combines the wide range of styles explored in both of its predecessors, and more. Of course at its heart this is still sludge metal: opener “Divide” kicks things off with an abundance of reverberation, rumbliness, and weightiness — with echoey clean vocals mostly buried in all the murkiness; closer “I Won’t Last Forever” brings the medium-low tempo doomy sludge factor; and halfway between, “415” demonstrates some very, VERY slow riffs — leaving you feeling like you’ve been trudging through enormous slabs of concrete.
But elsewhere, the tempo gets cranked up significantly: “Demon-Haunted” and particularly the title track are much faster, much crustier aural assaults. “Jesus Built My Death Squads” has kind of a militant-sounding drumbeat, with perhaps a smidge of industrial influence as well; but nearer the end of the album the stylistic pendulum swings the other way with the very shoegazey and rhythmically complex not-quite-waltz “Loss.” Of course, just as important as the sound of the music is the delivery of the message — and nowhere is this more prominent than “Overcome” which finds thoughtful guitar arpeggiating accompanying sampled discussion of the climate change crisis (credited as “NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change community”).
While it may be true that ‘no one wants to speak about it,’ obviously SOMEbody has to. And since — as the band’s tagline states, “the ones who got us in this mess will never get us out,” it has become evident that it’s up to each of us as individuals to step up and do what we can if we want to see anything improve. This album’s cover art apparently doubles as an array of Adzes‘ suggestions for how that change might be effected…
No One Wants to Speak About It tapes are now up for pre-order over at the Tridroid Bandcamp.
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