Christopher Owens shares some thoughts on supergroups.
Let's face it, supergroups are often mutual wanking sessions.
From Blind Faith, through to Tin Machine, the Travelling Wilburys and Velvet Revolver, the promise of individually famous musicians getting together to make music is much more alluring than the reality (a load of shite).
And Human Impact certainly fit that bill, with all four members having history in noise rock legends Cop Shoot Cop, Unsane and Swans (one of the greatest bands to ever walk this earth).
Described in the press release as being recorded:
...at BC Studios by veteran New York noise sculptor Martin Bisi (Sonic Youth, Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop)...Human Impact are a four-man hit squad controlling, gainfully, a musical genre they helped build. As much a nod to a pre-Giuliani, unsterilised New York as a soundtrack to a dystopian Ballard book, Human Impact is the score to a challenging future fast approaching.
Now this sounds promising. But does it live up to expectations?
Well, it's important to begin with the cover. Although a seemingly simple one, it's deliberate choice of colours suggest New York City either submerged under water, or a desolate waste land akin to 'Escape From New York.' In that context, the name of the band is much more hard hitting than on its own.
'November' opens with a nifty bass run vaguely similar to Shocking Blue's 'Love Buzz' before descending into a song which dials back the expected aggression in favour of a hazy, almost dubby, groove. As a curveball, it's an effective one as it lulls the listener into a trance before an explosion of fury towards the end shakes them out of the trance.
'E605' (presumably named after the insecticide) carries on in a similar vein, but the aggression is dialled up in the choruses, with plenty of staccato riffing and driving basslines. The groove throughout is infectious (hence the title, one presumes).
'Protestor' sees some primitive electronics added to the sonic palette, making it somewhat reminiscent of early 80's Fall, while 'Cause' straddles a fine line between Broadcast style electronica and the hard hitting noise rock of Amphetamine Reptile era Cows (just listen to that bassline), making it the best song on this LP.
Closing with 'This Dead Sea', the listener is subjected to a whirlwind of riffing and pounding drumming, giving the feeling that they are being submerged in a whirlpool. Like a lot of the best album closers, it has an apocalyptic 'end of days' feel to it, emphasising the fact that the end is upon us.
In other words: wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
While it's not going to set the world alight, this is an album made by four titans of New York noise rock who set out to plummet and pay tribute to their roots in post punk. And, on that front, it's a success.
Proof that underground supergroups rule.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.