★★★½ [Self-released; Aug. 27]
The debut release from SSSSSSS is a scuzzy blur of omnivorous, wild-eyed punk. The vocals are rarely and barely intelligible. Every riff, bassline, and drum hit is loaded down with gobs of serrated fuzz.
And yet, the most impressive thing about this release is its attention to detail.
Guitarist/bassist/drummer/synth player Clark Blomquist (The Kingsbury Manx, Spider Bags, Dan Melchior Band) and vocalist/lyricist Owen FitzGerald (Jokes&Jokes&Jokes, Salt Palace) are skilled musical chameleons.
And they lean into that here, sprinting through hardcore both brutalizing (opener “The Sibilance”) and mischievous (“The Balloons”) on their way to overdriven Suicide strutting (“Is The”) and grinningly low-rent black metal (“From All”) across 10 largely one-to-two-minute songs.
The breathless chaos is united by the consistently thoughtful way they assemble their subtly varied textures. The blaring distortion applied to the stoner riffs on “In Town” mounts gradually until the end, when it condenses into a colossal swell of feedback.
All manner of skittering, fluttering background textures complicate the clobbering riff and hyperventilating drums on “Is The,” giving the song a headiness disembodied from its manic propulsion, like blacking out on a roller coaster.
The lyrics aren’t discernible enough to make much of an impact, but FitzGerald’s vocals are key. He brings something different to each song—sneering confidently on the bouncy but burly “Take,” growling bestially through static on the metallic “From All,” mustering a righteously strained holler on the hardcore gut check “Best Value.”
SSSSSSS is likely too potent to win over newcomers to such extreme sounds. But those who have a taste for it should be able to kill hours exploring the intricacies of its 15 minutes.
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