Uniform’s new album sadly doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the Australian film Wake In Fright, but it does have a similarly harsh impact. These songs are about drugs and war, and in some cases are literally built out of sampled guns and explosions. Add guitar, nihilistic howling and power electronics textures and there you have it. Wake In Fright is out on Sacred Bones.
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Uniform are gonna deceive you. They sound like a hardcore band but are in actuality two dudes imitating one, with Michael Berden screaming and co-conspirator Ben Greenberg providing a mix of guitars and programming. Their second record comes billed as a concept album about war, ambiguously declaring its percussion to be “the literal sounds of war” -- gunshots and explosions are suggested as different parts of the kit, and on certain tracks it’s hard to tell whether that’s metaphor or a reality -- it’s on “Habit”, whose drums seem to explode and then hiss, where you first start to wonder how deep Uniform are digging into their theme.
This record stinks of that transgression: Berden’s vocals are somewhere between snarls and screams, leading the chaos Greenberg provides but often getting consumed by it -- the riffs on “Habit” are ultimately lost in the programmed drums, while tracks like “The Light at the End” go in with hardcore blastbeats and black metal guitars. It’s as if Uniform have submitted themselves to the extremities of their sound, which certainly speaks to Berden’s assessment of war as “surrounding” and all-encompassing -- whatever the record says about war through its sound, it says it in excess.
The metal riffage of “Bootlicker” is perhaps what Uniform do best. Scarred by a wall of noise and what sound like programmed versions of hxc drums, it proves them to be most thrash when they’re pushing through the chaos in a straight line, rather than getting completely lost in it. Recommended if you’ve been trying and failing to mash up power electronics tunes with Big Black hits.
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