Meat Wave – The Incessant (Sideonedummy Records)
Harsher emotions crash on Meat Wave’s forceful follow up to 2015’s Delusion Moon. The band veers off their beaten path and onto treacherous terrain. Lisa Sookraj reviews for Louder Than War.
Gloom and darkness has descended upon the world of all things Meat, like a skate kid who has matured into a grizzly man, gnashing his way through the myriad of harsh realities and anxieties of adulthood with bared teeth.
Delusion Moon and the band’s Brother EP showcased a kind of youthful naievete in contrast to the Incessant. The defining feature of those earlier releases was a bursting brightness, a punchy positive vibe with uplifting melodic moments juxtaposed with badass attitude and snarling vocals. Delicate touches like dreamy oohs contributed sentimentality to tracks like Sinkhole, which brought about hardcore catharsis and good feels at once.
The band has ditched the niceties in large part on the Incessant, which is more direct in its less melodic approach. With producer Steve Albini at the helm on this album, it’s fitting that a gritty Hot Snakes undercurrent runs throughout the jagged release. While echoes of early ’90s post-hardcore like Sunny Day Real Estate and alternative like early Failure also make an appearance on the very serious Birdland.
To Be Swayed, kicks things off kicking up all kinds of dirt and muck. The track feels a bit like Metz, but with some classically sweet Meat Wave melodies peeking out here and there for good measure. Tomasaki is drenched in this sense of tradition, a perfect balance of powerfully positive meaty waves sliced up with heavy dissonant interference. The emotional battle here is not just between vocals and lyrics, but overall feel and tone, the music splitting its time between two very separate vibes. The heartfelt Run You Out also feels like old meaty times, with a fresh, bright, lively and almost hopeful feel. A sense of striving to get ahead is paced with a patient kind of impatience, giving a strategic intelligence to the structure of the track.
Leopard Print Jet Ski feels like the first of several tracks with a subtle almost art-rock experimentalism to them. Off-kilter with strong Hot Snakes undertones, this track is an unsettling, menacing yet quirky odd-ball caricature and a sense of contempt. This song feels like the band trying their hand at character study, inhabiting a creation with some self-loathing. The severe heavy business of Bad Man works similarly. Glass Teeth has a lurching intro before bursting into very Meat Wave bliss. This track feels like the band’s old sound and interests merging very successfully with the new. Ditto for the album’s title track, with its stompy nature and feedback frenzy.
There is an elementary feel to No Light, a more subdued experiment in the Incessant lab. Things flesh out through drum rolls, crashing cymbals and amped up distortion. At The Lake is a more jittery endeavour, as is the fast and furious soundbite that is The Mask.
Killing The Incessant features spoken word against an intense noisy backdrop. This song epitomizes a rejection of the more light-hearted pseudo punk-poppiness that in part defined Meat Wave in the past, their new album marking a new phase and intention. It then transitions slowly into the band’s past sound, but still speaks to breaking the mould, feeling around after a rebirth, exploring deeper, darker new territory.
Meat Wave deserve a pat on the back both for continuing to tear things up proper and for bravely going where they haven’t gone before. While the integral core elements of more melodic, up-beat and sunny tracks like Tomasaki and Run You Out may be somewhat missed elsewhere in the predominantly shadowy abyss of the album, it’s clear these two tracks are not top priority for the band and present as only part of the larger narrative concept of The Incessant. The other tracks that hit home hardest here are those which highlight Meat Wave’s old strengths alongside their new ones, like Glass Teeth.
Meat Wave put on one heck of a live show. Check out their upcoming dates for their European tour this Spring!
- April 21 – Brighton – The Joker
- April 22 – Nottingham – Stuck On a Name
- April 24 – Cardiff – Club iFor Bach
- April 25 – Birmingham – The Flapper
- April 26 – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club (games room)
- April 27 – Glasgow – The Hug and Pint
- April 28 – Newcastle – Hit The North
- April 29 – Liverpool – Parr Street Studios – Studio 2
- April 30 – Leicester – Handmade Festival
- May 1 – Guildford – Boileroom
- May 2 – London – Birthdays
- May 3 – Paris – Le Mecanique Ondulatoire
- May 4 – Cologne – Tsunami
- May 5 – Berlin – Musik and Frieden
- May 6 – Hamburg – Headcrash
- May 8 – Groningen – Vera
- May 10 – Utrecht – ACU.
All words by Lisa Sookraj. More writing by Lisa can be found at her Louder Than War author’s archive.