Opening with the delightfully titled ‘sea of shit’ this is not music for the faint of heart. Existing in the gnarled and broken hinterland between Napalm Death and Neurosis, Haut&Court are not so much a band as a sonic endurance test and, without doubt, they fucking rule!
‘Sea of shit’ is a statement of intent emblazoned with burning guitars, ferocious percussion and vocals wrenched from hell’s own heart. This is ferocious, grind-laden metal played with punk spirit and an unholy sense of rage. It’s short, devilish and more potent than Polish home-brew and god help you if you end up in the band’s mosh pit. Without so much as a by-your-leave the band are into ‘Putin’ and they duly heap helium-fuelled opprobrium on the head of the hapless, wannabe dictator, the screams that tear across the mix so horrifying you expect to see chunks of the singer’s mangled throat spraying from the speaker. Things do not get any calmer for ‘Caligari’ which is led by the most evil bass sound this side of Shane Embury and which explodes into violent life with razor sharp riffs very much to the fore. It’s a cataclysmic wall of sound these Strasbourg loons unleash and it makes their claim of playing music in the genre of ‘auditive rape’ a;; the more convincing, especially when ‘meursault’ leaps form the speakers with all the subtlety of a brick to the cranium. It’s wonderfully invigorating, spectacularly obnoxious stuff that harks back gleefully to a time when music made parents and loved ones run from cover rather than nod appreciatively and you start to realise that Haut&Court are doing a damn good job of flying the true flag of musical rebellion. ‘1518’ wastes no time at all in slashing and burning the listener, coming on as the aural equivalent of a napalm attack, and so it goes, each track becoming increasingly unhinged whilst employing a similar tactic of light-speed percussion, guitars split between nimble-fingered fret board atrocity and chunky, speaker destroying riffs and vocals wrenched from the core of the earth. It’s an approach that could wear the listener down rapidly if it weren’t for the fact that Haut&Court play with both a precision and passion which overrides the normal reaction to such relentlessly aggressive music and recalls the early Napalm Death albums which were similarly abrasive.
If such an imposing album can have a highlight, then it is the towering twin peaks of ‘Hienes’ and ‘swing’ (which are approximately twice the length of other songs here) with their crushing, doom-laden chords doing as much to recall Khanate as more familiar grind acts, is it. A monumental tribute to endurance it’s a wonder that the creators aren’t all wearing straightjackets, and it is a stunning display of virtuoso brutality that ends in a fizzing array of feedback, segueing straight into the blackened doom of ‘Swing’. ‘Feed the fat’ sees business return to normal with its huge grinding riffs and ‘Goetz’, if anything, seems even more frenetic, tearing at the very fabric of reality with its monstrous riffs and nicotine-stained screams. The album ends with ‘JMLP’ which is also the record’s punkiest endeavour sounding like sex pistols put in a blender with Amebix. It’s unpleasant, thrillingly visceral and quite insanely over the top. There’s even a last minute reprise in case anyone wasn’t paying attention.
Haut&Court are one of those bands for whom the majority need not apply. This is not pleasant, easy or relaxing music, rather it is the adrenalin-fuelled soundtrack of nightmares. The sludge-doom pinnacle of ‘Hienes’ and ‘swing’ merely slows down the horror to allow more time for it to penetrate the mind whilst the hyper-speed grind found elsewhere is spectacularly nasty. As vicious, repellent and blood soaked as a late-night bar brawl with broken bottles, ‘troffea’ will soothe your inner demons, if you happen to so ridden with them that even a month with the exorcist would fail to cleanse you… you have been warned!