RELEASE: She Walks, She Creeps
RELEASE DATE: October 28th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sonic Unyon Records
By far the most interesting, engaging, original and experimental piece of music I have heard from a non pro band/music project in the past while, WTCHS ‘She Walks, She Creeps’ may just be the album to *expletive word* off all of the other phony’s. They’re not even in the same league actually; this album is heavy, dirty, transgressively wild and utterly engaging in its experimentation and sound. Before I go on though, I can guarantee you that a lot of you will probably hate this album. If you love shoegaze, you’ll dodge this album. If you love synth pop, you’ll be confused by this album. If you love dream pop, don’t even look at the cover of the album. This is HEAVY. Because this album is a sludge metal album… And the only thing that stops it from becoming a lengthy, thick, brooding stoner metal/drone metal album is the occasional alternative rock instrumented passages and distant but impressive post-punk inspired vocals that put a whole other angle on songs presented wherein. This is truly an original release; an album of true experimentation and of truly juddering proportions.
‘She Walks, She Creeps’ opens with ‘Black Actors’ which I can almost guarantee will manage to put the bands detractors and those who dislike metal out of the picture within the intro. The song opens with two minutes of thick, wavering noise and distortion that acts as a complete wall of sound. There are no drums, there are no vocals, there is no context; it’s just pummelling feedback and noise distortion until the rattling of drums seeps in after a while to introduce some sort of rhythm to the song. When all other instruments are introduced the guitars tone takes a step back into something more tangible with a neat post-punk inspired riff. The vocals, far away and barely audible, act as a fantastic counterpoint to the noise filtered and chaotic air of the song. ‘Black Actors’ belts on for over ten minutes; surging and retreating, offering vocals then splintering noise and sound textures built between the heavy percussion, guitars and the soaring but dark vocals. The band showcase just what’s up their sleeve, however, with the tracks outro; the shuddering noisecore wall of feedback with vocals screaming over the top before they are eventually drowned out by noise similar to the tracks intro. But just when the audience are getting their ears assaulted, the band does a clever move and the song swings into a clipping audio sound of distortion that drowns itself out; then quiet. ‘Old Crowns’ follows with a less monumental structure than ‘Black Actors’ and relies on a noise laden post-punk sound that includes plucking high guitars and less experimental vocals. The song projects a fantastic follow up to the wild and epic ‘Black Actors’ and showcases the bands power when it is acting in a less conceptual arc and more traditional song structure.
‘You Own Your Bones’, a nearly eight minute noise rock extravaganza, follows with less of a full beginning; this time the band rely on the bare vocals, guitar and drums. After this small intro, however, the mesmerizingly brilliant swing of the songs structure begins to be played. Which somehow includes a brass section of instrumentation accompanied by a beat one could liken to a carnival ride? This is true experimentation. Where a lot of other bands believe that throwing in extra percussion or doing screams instead of cleans, WTCHS put a brass section into a sludge metal/noise rock song that goes for eight minutes… As I said before; that is true experimentation.
Speaking of which, the much more traditionally structured ‘Whitney At The Rifle Range’ places all the sonic noise into a more compact unit and showcases a more punk orientated sound with the occasional drum passage stationed in-between lengthy guitar and bass orientated passages. The vocals are in another completely different place again, this time sounding like borderline radio static. The track somehow keeps itself together enough to produce an interesting, versatile and engaging song that fits well in the context of the album. ‘Young Girls’ sits comfortable in this same pattern, however WTCHS rely on a more heavy, slow and sludge metal sound. This time, the vocals reach shrieking high notes while the drums keep a slow, steady pattern. If ‘Black Actors’ and ‘Old Crows’ are noise laden beasts, then ‘Young Girls’ are the trees in the forest that those beasts run through; influenced by their ways but different themselves.
Ultimately, the albums most experimental moment lies in ‘Six of Cups’ which starts with samples of percussion that last well over the two minute thirty mark. These percussive, lo-fi style beats are accompanied by slight and distanced soundscapes at the back of the mix; hardly noticeable until they present themselves as what sound like reversed vocal tones. As the listener focuses on these sounds and textures, it becomes evident that ‘Six of Cups’ is like one, lengthy outro track. And eventually, the band confirm this with distorted chanting and vocal like sounds at the back of the mix that eventually drown out as the song fades. And just as you were thinking that this sounds inferior compared to the albums chaotic and loud opening, I believe that this is a contrast; almost like the album has recharged itself in all its noise and feedback riddled glory. Rather than crescendo out onto a whole, volatile album that builds into something like ‘Black Actors’ the band do the opposite and waver the music slowly, drowning out the noise. The songs on the albums second half become more structured, punk inspired and more accessible until ‘Six of Cups’; which I believe to be a brilliant and alternative way to present an experimental album.
As I said before; although this album is by no means avant-garde by any standard, it will not be appealing to everybody who enjoys alternative music. Just how listeners who love sludge metal may not fall in love with it, or folks who love post-punk may not either… And that is because the album is experimental. All the way from ‘Black Actors’ to ‘Six of Cups’ the band cross and swing between sludge metal, stoner metal, post-punk, noise, industrial, ambient, lo-fi, Art Metal and No Wave, which makes the album even more abstractly memorable. Perhaps its greatest achievement is its sheer originality; so many bands doing so many similar or slightly above average things begins to make one wonder where the art of experimentation and originality really is; the answer is its right here, in all its dirty, fuzzy glory. This animal of an album stands to the testament that there is always another step to take in music; whether it’s nice or dirty, clean or sludge, milk or mud. And the band give it their all; through performance, production and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.