How loud do you have to turn it up before your ears start to bleed? Before your speakers start to shred? Before you find yourself staring at a puddle of goo that was once your brain, now melted and bubbling on the hot ground beneath your feet? Pretty fucking loud, you’d imagine, although a short time in the presence of No Negative’s second album should help speed along that process.
Following on from 2015’s mighty debut The Good Never Comes, new offering The Last Offices LP takes the Montreal quartet’s penchant for raw, ragged noise and lobs it into a drum of molten steel, before fashioning the cooling results into something truly formidable. First off, this is very audibly (and thrillingly) a punk rock record. Yeah, you can hear the metal fascination that drove Black Flag down ever-heavier routes in the 80s, but also echoes of the explorative, spacey psych of Hawkwind and the pointed mindfuckery of the Butthole Surfers at their most crushingly bleak. Hell, even the expansive kraut-punk spirit of John Dwyer’s Oh Sees can be found here, albeit buried under the sheer force of something that is unmistakably hardcore.
“Your planet has been swallowed by a black hole… you can no longer taste or smell or see,” they claim on the ferociously bad trip of Transmission From The Black Hole, and that’s an accurate reflection of what it feels like to listen to this band operating at full pelt. They’re smart, they’re harrowing and they’re totally kick-ass. They’re the sound of a generation-wide existential crisis, making anthems for anyone who knows the only way through the mess of 2019 is to surrender your brain to the healing powers of The Riff and just watch everything evaporate. Hey, isn’t that where we came in?