. issue XVIII : vi .
Very-very ’89-meets-‘94 duo Water Torture offer acerbic grindcore in SHELLFIRE!, a work stolid — rather than frenetic — and oh-so-post-hardcore. But the grind aesthetic governs timely, if not sonic, constraints. Only 4 of these 11 songs are longer than a minute, which means … ‘now we’re talking.’ Remarkably, one piece is a mere 4 seconds long; “Medicate,” the by-the-thread appendage to “Self Preserve,” piggybacks on the consummate riff to rail off last words as though they were not only related (they’re not), but the cinch of emphatic closure.
It’s a mordant, adventurously well-rounded album from a duo with a unique approach: raucous noise splayed out in rich, tortuous retro, slabs and finely-minced riffs of bass, a hailstorm of drums. Water Torture are Matt Goodrich (b-g and noise) and Thomas Leyh (d and vox), and SHELLFIRE! has all its wits about it and then some. The talented Leyh’s punk sensibility (no shrill convulsions here) yells, “Waste of space, waste of skin, waste of life,” “Thanks! For nothing! Thanks! For nothing!” and “Resistant to reformation!” “For Nothing” creeps in misleadingly with the wavy dissonance of a noise field deconvoling over a sulking, never-quite-concomitant bass, accumulating arrhythmic kick drum before launching into the unpleasant sneer of vocals and a righteous riff on bass. Similarly, “Resistant” winds down into a dance floor shambles: tinkles on keys, Sun Ra with the shakes amid strathes of feedback.
Water Torture seem to be angry at unauthentic human constructions; they might call their music “power violence,” but it seems directed against ‘puppetry’ — which is hard not to appreciate in 2013 after the long run and general validity of the punk tradition; Leyh is more decrying “a living lie” than he is threatening to “eliminate the waste” — still, it’s a rude and mordant album.
“Complete Collapse,” SHELLFIRE!’s second longest (at 2:06) and far-and-away standout, has the perspicuity to begin with the shriek–and-warble of feedback, crunching into a gravelly basso profundo. Slowing again and again in tiring plateaus, using the nuance of a noise tendril to delineate portions of a song, punctuating with a syllabic onslaught (“complete collapse, this world will end”), “Collapse” offers a sampling of what Water Torture can do with noise, tempo, syncopation, timbre, and composition in this solid and authentic effort.