There’s a certain expectation when you open a CD case and you’re greeted with a black and white shot of a distortion pedal. Perhaps it is the bands that have used that imagery in the past (think ‘bleach’-era nirvana, Mudhoney and countless other heavy-rock obsessed acts) but whenever a band chooses to represent itself with grainy images of battered live gear there’s the expectation that you’re going to hear something raw, untamed and vital.
Goes cube do not disappoint. The first track on ‘in tides and drifts’, the unhinged ‘safety coffin’ is every bit the untrammelled dose of rage that the band’s imagery suggests and with a vocalist who sounds like he’s not so much singing as pouring his soul out, one moment at a time, through the microphone, it’s only right that the band provide a suitably apocalyptic soundtrack for his musings. ‘Thunderheads’ is similarly violent and the name is entirely apt, with huge, cyclical guitar riffs allied to a remorseless percussive attack that must be exhausting in the live environment. It’s awesome stuff in the very literal meaning of the word and kept brutally short to maximise impact. Better still is the fret-board abusing blast of ‘property’ which keeps things interesting with multiple tempo-shifts showcasing that for all the rawness of the production, Goes Cube are a frighteningly proficient band who have spent their time honing their skills until they simply blaze with unholy light. ‘Year of the human’ is insanely heavy, cruising on a titanium riff designed to crush all in its path and recalling the massive, progressive might of early Mastadon. With a bruising mid-section, it’s like being trapped in the path of an oncoming tank, nowhere to turn and no way of escape. It’s satisfyingly, bruisingly heavy and yet, when you least expect it the band unveil a more sensitive side that stands gloriously in contrast to the battering ram approach and makes you appreciate the band’s astonishing skills all the more. It allies the band more closely with the alternative end of the heavy music spectrum and it is as welcome as it is unexpected.
Next up is ‘the homes of’ which offers no such quarter and which comes storming out of the barn foaming at the mouth and covered in blood up until the point the vocals come in over a syncopated beat and introduces the mellifluous voice of Jaymay who more than holds her own against the band’s clattering backdrop. It’s a bold move, deftly managed and it lends further depth to an album that is far more than it initially appears to be. ‘Gray and winter’ is rather more straight forward, with the band adopting the position – heads down, faces tight in concentration, and the music flowing through them in electrifying fashion.
The band then head off into pastures new for the triptych which begins with the crushing, art-metal ‘the story is the story begins’ which couples the band’s angular metal to a glorious post-rock frame for a lengthy, stunning exposition, it recalls elements of Isis and Intronaut and it is staggeringly good. The trilogy continues through ‘the story is the story goes’, which comes storming in without so much as a ‘by your leave’ and proceeds to trample everything underfoot with its brutal mix of metal and hardcore before darting off in yet another direction. Reading the review back it makes it sound as if the music is disjointed, but that is not the case. For sure, Goes cube introduce a wealth of ideas into each song, but such is their distressingly high level of talent that it flows seamlessly, with every separate element sounding as relevant and necessary as what came before. Hence when ‘the story is the story ends’ rounds out the dark centrepiece of the album sounding like lost heroes Botch the beautiful dichotomy between the band’s hyper-speed brutality and passages of morbid slow-motion grind sounds utterly amazing and is guaranteed to drop the jaws of even the most jaded listener.
After such an exhaustive trilogy you’d expect the band to be suffering from a lack of ideas, yet ‘small pond, small fish’ does away with such notions by unleashing a barrage of guitar and percussion fronted by an amazing harmonised vocal as casually as most people might enquire about the weather. ‘Lines on the map’ slows the pace a touch with Matthew Tyson (bass) allowed a moment to shine from beneath the raging guitars and while Kenny Appell (on drums) rarely lets up, David Obuchowski (guitarist/vocalist) takes the opportunity to engage in some gentle post-rock ambience before the band hammer back in for the second half of the track. ‘The ban has been lifted’ sees the album drawing towards its end with a brief moment of melodic metal before the title track rounds out this searing blast of crazed, rock fury with a sun-dappled moment of heart-breaking beauty with vocals once again courtesy of the stunning Jaymay.
It is a fitting end to an album that rarely lets up and never dips below the ‘staggering’ mark. Unerringly inventive, boldly arty and quite unnervingly heavy, this is beyond terms such as ‘post rock’, ‘post hardcore’ or whatever – it’s quite simply an amazing piece of music and it is best appreciated as a whole, with each track flowing in to the next. You’ll find beauty, depth, ugliness, rage and redemption all wrapped up in this amazing work of art – essential listening.