The end of your rope is no different than the rest of its length, all that matters is your own faulty positioning. Hanged, hanging, pulling or slipping into resignation and going limp all acquiesce as a illusory choice and a manner of letting go or, giving up. Surrounded by burning agony, antagonists and villains the poetry of HEADS.‘ vocalist Ed Fraser is that of a bulldog made feral and snarling, who’d been pushed to aggression, a profound and biting irreverence unwilling to soften in view of the (literal) rising tides amidst brutal societal inclemency. ‘Push’ is the world afire, it’s screaming imagined by the empathetic-yet-infuriated mind and set to world class, gorgeously classique noise rock/post-punk overture. If ‘Collider’ was the stoned sleep of the disillusioned and escapism prone then let ‘Push’ be a spike through the chest, a dream’s death and a snap back to hellish reality.
HEADS. set their sights upon noise rock/post-hardcore influenced waves early last decade as a collaboration between German folks who’d been involved in The Ocean‘s collective and Fraser who is based out of Melbourne, Australia. Their shared vision is remarkably lucid despite the distance and no doubt the trio works at a professional grade due to spending most of the 2000’s in various rock and post-metal bands honing skills and finding their own rhythms. From the start (‘HEADS.‘, 2015) the sleepy spaced lilt of Failure‘s 90’s evolution alongside the post-Helmet world of alternative rock and sludge heaviness has been their cloak, a dreamlike version of noise rock just on the verge of extremity. I suppose my review of their breakthrough record (‘Collider‘, 2018) understood where they were coming from to some degree but didn’t properly note the huge vibe of the record, the swimming fidelity, and the stoney absolutely soul-clubbing verve of its movements. I’d regret not emphasizing what a special record it was after the fact so I’ve paid some closer mind to what makes HEADS. special today, perhaps a futile pursuit considering it’ll be fairly damned obviate well into the second song or so. ‘Push’ is a new attitude, a ton of personality, and a bold doubling down upon the poetic merits of past releases.
Spoken word moments found throughout ‘Collider’ didn’t resonate with me back in 2018 because, from my perspective, they were delivered without emotional context that’d served the full listen and though it was my only major gripe with that record, it’d be fair to say that context could’ve eluded me. On ‘Push’ there is no way you’re going to miss Fraser‘s emotive, self-scalding and occasionally misanthropic lyrical resonance. He’s gone so big with the expressive narration and unique diction of each piece that his positively sneering Australian accent is initially jarring, I’d found myself asking aloud “Did HEADS. get a new vocalist?” No, but man does he wake up on the wrong side of the goddamned world, ready to spit across oceans if he has to. After some familiarization the vocals and lyrics settled down in my mind, they began to fit like a glove with the bounding, enormous slightly distorted bass guitar tone. As I’ll harp on about it ’til death, the finest rock records give voice, not supportive status, to the bassist and ‘Push’ follows in the traditions of early 90’s greats (Failure‘s ‘Comfort’, Slint‘s ‘Tweez’) in this sense. They’ve not gone as far as say, Quicksand did on ‘Interiors’ in terms of myriad effects and multiple tonal shifts with the instrument but there are moments where their render comes close in feeling and lilt (see: “Rusty Sling”).
You’ll still recognize HEADS. all over ‘Push’. “Loyalty” has the brooding psychedelic swerving, “Paradise” is a tune carried in a familiar way, but the real joyous meat of it all comes with the big and brawny beatnik stomps of “Weather Beaten”, the gluey antisocial swing of “Push You Out to Sea” and the righteous stargazing ooze of “Rusty Sling”. The hair-raising arguably peaks with “Nobody Moves and Everybody Talks”, and I think this is where the poetic value of Fraser‘s lyrics strikes me most profoundly on Side B. It feels a bit like I’ve put on an avant-garde noise rock band that Alternative Tentacles might’ve picked up back in the day, there is a punkish sneer and a subtle political underpinning to the lyrics that felt intensely “right” for my own taste in that sense despite this whole gig being from another, quite separate world. That’d be the larger statement I’d push on anyone interested in modern noise rock, post-hardcore, and post-punk mutations leaning towards sludge heaviness — It might be from another world but it’d only crossed dimensions by some great strength. No doubt you’ll feel it if you’re as prone to the balanced-but-explosive dynamic Magnus Lindberg typically instills into this sort of music, of which his ear is especially keen for guitar placement in the mix and bass prominence without distorting the key session from Fraser. I’d not exaggerated in calling ‘Push’ a world class record, a fresh high for HEADS. and a very high recommendation from me.
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