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Distances Exude Confidence On “Judas Steer”

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Albuquerque-based Distances are not afraid of paving their own path. Carrying the DIY flag fiercely in hand, the quartet are one of those rare gems blessed with both the determination to handle everything in-house as well as the skills required to do so at an impressively professional level. Distances are intensely proud of their home-grown approach, and in their case, it’s a pride worthily earned. Dive into their churning morass of sludgy death with our exclusive premiere of “Judas Steer,” the second track from their upcoming full-length Diableries.

The song opens in tumult, with bombastic drums roiling underneath keening guitar. Violinist Kristen Rad soars atop the tempest with genuinely unsettling bowed shrieks that immediately worm their way under the skin. More than anything else, it’s Rad’s harrowing presence which channels the diableries of the album’s title. The violin is utilized artfully at the song’s most pitched moments to ratchet up the energy even further — making the softer moments even more impactful in contrast.

Before the song’s midpoint interlude, its whirling riffs are in constant metric shift. The resulting effect is one of rhythmic bombardment, yet the band never allow the groove to escape their control. Even as they transition from one time signature to another, it’s not hard to headbang along thanks to the guiding hand of drummer Peter Hague on the high hat. Hague is also responsible for the captivating album art as well as the band’s handful of teaser videos they’ve released to aid in promoting the record.

After this stormy first half, Rad holds court with a melodic respite before leading the way into the song’s final build. Her bandmates work in seamless cooperation to slowly increase the tension underneath, before exploding into the massive half-time breakdown/conclusion.

“Judas Steer” and album opener “God Rest” pack a potent one-two combo, despite their combined length of over 12 minutes. The two songs are both very percussive and tightly orchestrated statements, as opposed to the more mercurial and meandering mid-album set piece “Market Price.”

Distances will be self-releasing Diableries on March 23rd, and the album is currently available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

—Ivan Belcic

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