I find it funny that, in my experience, when most people hear the term “post-punk,” they jump to thinking about the popular (i.e. radio friendly) work of Joy Division, The Sisters Of Mercy, and other bands who tend to be seen as “softer;” when in reality, quite a good deal of post-punk artists have created some of the most abrasive, relentless, and heavy music to come out of the punk umbrella. The obvious examples of more aggressive post-punk would be Wire, PIL, Killing Joke, Warsaw (who eventually became Joy Division), and Gang Of Four; but a lot of people forget that bands such as Swans, Minimal Man, SPK, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, and Flipper were born from the same movement – industrial and noise rock have always been an integral part of what we call “post-punk.” And in this post-modern age of reductionism and copycat bands, when someone tells you they’re working on a post-punk band, it’s almost a guarantee that it’ll sound as if it’s trying to be New Order rather than taking cues from The Ex. But that’s where bands such as Balcanes come in.
I reviewed their last release, 2016’s Carne Nueva MLP (which you can read about here), as well as their 2014 Plataforma / Autopista 7” – both of which still get some solid rotation – and this new 7” they have coming out, entitled Decrépita / Decadencia, is just as crushing as its predecessors. Being musically consistent as noise rock band in the 21st century (or really any time) can be harder than many might think, and so the artists who can stay on top of their shit are certainly forces to be reckoned with. Balcanes stand among those impressive contemporary noise rockers who have managed to maintain a recognizable sound which plays on similar ideas without rehashing the same thing with each new release; they continue to bring the hits time and again.
The two songs on this newest single pick up where the band left off on their 2016 MLP, but as a further exploration rather than a redundancy. Sure, the simplistic, repetitive dirge and feedback drenched formula is the base; however, there is a certain punkier edge to these tracks which sets them apart from the droning filth on Carne Nueva. In addition, the production – which was done by James Plotkin of O.L.D. and Khanate, among others – also differs in a way which is ostensibly cleaner, yet somehow puts even more of Balcanes’ layered, squalid mire on display than the previous two records did (which is certainly saying something). Both songs grow and change as they progress, each building ominously and coming to a climax, and finally exploding into bombardments of disgusting wails and sonic havoc.
Some good points of reference for a lot of what Balcanes does are Skullflower, Will To Live (a project of Amaury Perez a.k.a. Amor Fati) and Cosmonauts Hail Satan, all of whom have seamlessly integrated industrial sounds into heavy, deranged post-punk/noise rock. There has been an increase of other artists taking this approach in recent years (including Roht, Intensive Care, and my own project, Bloated Subhumans), and fortunately, many artists have managed to keep things interesting and not sound all the same. What really sets Balcanes apart from everyone else is their ability to craft material which sounds akin to a lurching mechanical death trap crumbling into nothingness; and I’m not sure what about that description wouldn’t make you want to listen to them immediately.
Side A, “Decrépita,” can be heard below, accompanied by a music video put together by David Ferrando Giraut; Side B will be coming with the release of the 7” this month through Pifia Records and Discos Finu. And if you haven’t heard their previous material, I highly recommend that you give it a listen.