Death Engine crank out a half-hour of pure abrasiveness on their sophomore full-length, Place Noire.
From the caustic post-hardcore of 2013’s Amen EP, to the cacophonous and angular chaos of 2015’s Mud, Lorient’s Death Engine have been on a steady path to noisy glory since their inception. As such, it comes as no surprise that Place Noire sees the band embracing their noise rock elements more than ever before. This results in six tense, gritty tracks full of hypnotic rhythms, atonal guitars, and swirling murks of feedback and noise. The band’s sound may have changed yet again, but their visceral heaviness remains.
A simplistic drum pattern and corrosive bass lines open up the record on “Modern Life”. Once the guitars come crashing in with their jangly tone and bitter riffs, the song becomes rife with insurmountable tension that is eventually released in a triumphant march of melancholic chords and emotionally-charged screams. The track’s climax of throat-searing vocals and feedback bleeds into the album’s second track, “Decline”, which in contrast to its predecessor wastes no time delivering propulsive rhythms and driving post-hardcore riffs. It’s a steady punch in the gut that is peppered with wailing guitar noises and fierce battles between melody and discordance. A similar approach is utilized in the song “Pickaxe”, which ultimately takes a darker, more sullen turn.
“Dead End” breaks the mold a bit with its hypnotically repetitive, chugging riffs and waves of hostile noise. The vocals transition between pain-stricken screams and droning, slurred vocals that are a staple of the noise rock genre. As it reaches its conclusion, the tightly-wound tension is released in a climax of harsh noise and lurching sludge. “Ordinary Violence” also stands out from the pack with its back-and-forth struggle between dissonant, serpentine leads and throttling hardcore, making it one of the more vicious cuts on the record. All of this leads to the album’s closing and grandiose piece, “Romance”. This eight-minute leviathan begins with a few, uncomfortable moments of disorienting noise and feedback before exploding into a storming assault of venomous grooves. After two of these sonic assaults, the track dials back the chaos and slowly-builds back up into a climax of dreary, monolithic riffs.
While Place Noire might not be as immediate or jarring as its predecessor, it still causes the same amount of devastation albeit in a different way. The record’s effective and artful use of tension and noise, in addition to its abrasive hardcore roots, is where it succeeds.
Release Date: April 13, 2018
Label: Throatruiner Records
Favorite Tracks: “Ordinary Violence” and “Romance”
For Fans of: Comity, Birds in Row and Sofy Major