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February 2020
Review

Meat Wave - The Incessant

An exhilarating, abrasive 37 minutes.
Meat Wave - The Incessant
Published: 7:49 am, February 21, 2017
An exhilarating, abrasive 37 minutes.

Label: Big Scary Monsters
Released: 17th February 2017
Rating: ★★★

Grabbing their gristly moniker from a The Onion headline (“Dozens Dead In Chicago-Area Meatwave”), this Chicago punk trio impressed with 2015’s ‘Delusion Moon’, guitarist and vocalist Chris Sutter displaying a keen ear for melody among all the hardcore buzz and clatter. And, while third album ‘The Incessant’ is certainly relentless enough to earn its title, the songs lose little ground to all the nervy, amped-up savagery.

The album was written after the end of a relationship the 24-year-old Sutter had been in for half his life, and the prickly, changeable ‘To Be Swayed’ (“Your emotions undulate like a tide upon the beach”) - which roars in, needling discord carving through insistent pummel, vocals edged with barely suppressed rage - gives an immediate sense of the ‘confrontation with the self’ he went through.

Raw anger is soon replaced by other emotions: ‘Tomosaki’ is sung to the couple’s cat, who he realises he won’t see again, tempering the opener’s onslaught with a bittersweet, rough-hewn tune that’s oddly reminiscent of The Cribs, while ‘Run You Out’ and the jittery ‘Leopard Print Jet Ski’ (“Finally free … I get away”) ring with a defiant liberation.

It’s all shot through with Joe Gac’s rumbling, rapid-fire bass picking, and Ryan Wizniak’s thunderous drumming, devastating on the fragmentary ‘Mask’ and propelling the standout ‘Bad Man’. The band recorded the album with fellow Chicagoan Steve Albini, whose credits make it hard to imagine anyone else at the engine, and between the rusted metal of the bass, the drums’ devastating clarity and the sawtooth-sharp guitar, Meat Wave are more direct and dynamic here than ever before. Incessant? Sure. Exhausting? Possibly. But it’s an exhilarating, abrasive 37 minutes, which could be as cathartic for the listener as it evidently was for Sutter. Rob Mesure

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