For a genre that prides itself on being as repellent and antagonizing as possible and exists almost exclusively in the underground, there sure is a massive amount of noise out there. So much so, that sifting through it to find the gems can be taxing at times, even for seasoned veterans of the genre. Not only are there innumerable bands and solo artists creating noise today, but these artists tend to have massive outputs, sometimes favoring a quantity of quality approach. It’s easy for it to all blend together into a massive haze of electronic static. With the nature of the beast being what it is, even avid digesters of this violent aural art form such as myself miss a quality release or two every now and then, we are only human. I’ll admit wholeheartedly that I completely missed the boat of Bloated Subhumans‘ Vessels the first time around when it was released back in January. Thankfully, when they released the second half of this gem in October, I was able to hop on board and indulge in this banquet of, in their own words ‘disillusionment, detachment, and death.’
Bloated Subhumans is a band from Wilmington, Delware with veteran tact when composing tactless music, despite their limited back catalog. Their output falls on the more musical side of the spectrum when it comes to noise music, each offering having a loose structure based around thrumming, bone-rattling bass coupled with barely audible, chanted vocals, and washes of electronic noise surrounding all of it. Elements of drone and hardcore flirting with a basis of harsh noise and power electronics. The drones crafted by the driving bass and programmed drums set a plodding pace supported by the mumbled, washed out vocals. No awkward attempts at screaming or singing to match the intensity of the music are had here, the vocals are barely audible but incredibly effective, essentially just monotone chants lamenting existence. This low key, droning approach is offset by the wash of shrieking electronics and rattling wash of feedback that frequently shifts positions from the background to the foreground seamlessly, never overpowering the other elements of the music but rather enhancing them. Make no mistake, this is most assuredly a harsh noise release, but it is one done with an amount of restraint uncommon in the genre. All of the booming power of the music is expertly used and creates and air of complete and utter nihilism in the best possible way.
The first half of this release is relatively short for a noise album, clocking in at just under fifteen minutes, but this tactful reservation prevents their effective approach from overstaying it’s welcome, but leaves you craving more. And I definitely did after my first listen, which is why I was gratified to learn of ‘Side B’ of this release. Released nine months after the initial release of Vessels for the second side of the official release of the album, ‘Side B’ contains just one track. The track is entitled ‘Meaningless’ and is significantly longer than any of the other three tracks on Vessels, at just under fourteen minutes it is almost as long as the entire first half. This second half focuses more on the harsh noise aspect of the band to great effect. The other, more structured punk-esque elements are still present, but they take a backseat to the wash of electronic death. Coupled with the same listless vocals, with slightly more variation, and the same nihilistic pace and atmosphere of the first half, the addition of ‘Meaningless’ truly sends this release over the top. The final rivet in Bloated Subhumans’ monument to dissatisfaction with life is the one that truly catalyzes their vision of nihilism and disillusionment. Had the entire album been as chaotic and, for lack of a better term noisey, as this second half, it might not have had the impact that it does. But again, the compositional tact of the group to use this longer, more violent track as a punctuation rather than a precedent pays dividends. If Vessels were limited to the original three tracks, it would be a noteworthy release on it’s own, but the addition of the fourth and presumably final track makes it a fantastic one.
Both Sides A and B of Vessels are currently available for a price of ‘Pay what you want’ on Bloated Subhumans’ official bandcamp page. Give them what you think it is worth and support them so they can hurt you more.