Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crucial Blast on Anatomy of Habit CD

ANATOMY OF HABIT   self-titled   CD

Although Chicago noise artist Mark Solotroff has been destroying eardrums for nearly thirty years, first with his early American power electronics outfit Intrinsic Action that combined rabid Whitehouse worship with an evil undercurrent of S&M sleaze, later with the extreme electronic abuse of Bloodyminded and the apocalyptic industrial sludge-scapes of The Fortieth Day, it hasn't been until recently that Solotroff has started to explore more rock-based delivery systems for his visions of dystopian violence and collapse. Starting with a self-titled 12" released in 2011 and followed by another, similarly untitled 12" the following year, Solotroff's new band Anatomy Of Habit (which also features Blake Edwards of Vertonen on metal percussion, drummer Dylan Posa, formerly of Flying Luttenbachers and Cheer Accident, bassist Kenny Rasmussen, and Greg Ratajczak of Plague Bringer and Winters In Osaka) has been building a sound that is equal parts crushing noise rock, 80's-style goth n' gloom, metallic sludge and hypnotic post-punk, with long songs that stretch out across an entire side of a record, marked by marked by slow buildups into pummeling sludgy heaviness and long circular grooves. Swans and Joy Division are obvious influences on the band's music, but there's also a bit of Om-like psychedelic repetition here as well, giving this a heavy, trance-inducing feel at times.

The band has assembled their first Cd release with this re-mastered collection of all of their vinyl tracks to date, compiling both of the self-titled 12"s here on this full-length disc. Packaged in a six-panel digipack, this is an excellent entry point into Anatomy Of Habit's dour, industrial-tinged gloom-rock.

The first Lp features the tracks "Overcome" and "Torch": "Overcome" sprawls out into a dark, brooding mass of slow-moving gloom rock, the minimal guitars and droning bass line giving this a real Joy Division-ish feel, the deep distant vocals cloaked in shadows, the song seeming to be building eternally as the chiming delay-streaked guitar notes and incantatory singing rises ever skyward. It gradually takes on a ritualistic vibe as the drums come in and the song locks into a kind of circular trance, the melody slowly spinning around, over and over, a gloomy shambling hypnorock loop; it builds like this for minutes at a time, the sound slowly growing in intensity, until it all suddenly lurches into the pounding, sludgy heaviness that takes over the last half of the song, a lumbering, droning low-end crush fused to a catchy melodic hook, somewhere in between Killing Joke and Neurosis's calmer moments of apocalyptic dirge. The seventeen minute "Torch" is another powerful gloom epic, coming in on waves of shimmering cymbals and distant whirring synths, then shifts into dark piano sounds and those far-off vocals before slipping into another monstrous slo-mo groove. This one has some of the band's heaviest stuff, blooming into crushing metallic war-sludge and massive chugging riffage, then later devolving into discordant, plodding heaviness at the end. 

The second 12" from Anatomy Of Habit features two more long tracks of their crushing, hypnotic post-punk, "After The Water" and "The Decade Plan", and sees the band introducing piano and synthesizer into their sound. After a haunting introduction of simple laid-back percussion and jangling guitar melody, "After The Water" opens up into a kind of slow, brooding gloom-rock, somewhere in between Swans and some slow-moving math rock outfit, the heartfelt vocals droning over this slowly developing hook; somewhere around the middle of the song, it changes into an almost militaristic rhythm with clanging bass and the vocals becoming harder, more stentorian, right before surging into a blast of crushing, pummeling sludge. "The Decade Plan" follows with slowly cascading clean guitars and speak-sing vocals that make the beginning of the song sound like some early 90s slowcore, then blasts into a crushing doom-laden riff, a strange stilted heaviness with clanking metallic percussion rattling in the background, slowly but inexorably building into a majestic finale.