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Song debut: Cut Yourself In Half – “The End”

The metal community has a tendency to adopt certain outside styles, but not others. It’s not ‘cool’ for metal folks (or anyone) to listen to polka, but drone and noise music are cool. Acoustic singer/songwriter music is out, but so-called apocalyptic folk is fine. I’ve often heard older metalheads say that there’s a difference between “heavy music” and heavy meta. It seems that the point of breakage between metal-approved outside style and total poseur jams depends on whether that outside style is “heavy,” if not metal.

Which would explain why noise rock gets a pass from the metal world. Though most stuff in the vein seems to come more clearly from punk than from metal, it is typically too bruising and abrasive to please fans of traditional punk, and too artsy to jibe well with the hardcore set. Metal people are okay with both bruising and artsy (broadly speaking), so we welcome noise rock into our homes.

Which brings us to Britain’s Cut Yourself In Half. (How would one even do such a thing?) The promotional materials for Mekkanizm, their first proper album, pitch it mostly as a stoner rock album. Which makes sense; guitarist/vocalist George Quinn’s vocals are warm and clean about 50% of the time, the guitars are big and rumbly, and stuff tagged ‘stoner rock’ tends to sell, so it’s a natural choice. But “The End” has a nasty, noisy lean that places it substantially outside the fuzzy world that the “stoner” appellation implies. Its rhythms are fiddly and nervous, and when Quinn isn’t singing, he produces a layered squawk that reminds me of Steve Austin’s screams on earlier Today Is the Day records. The song arrives at a messy feedback interlude about halfway through, and then builds to a big, dumb, satisfying half-time groove. Unsane would be proud.

Like Whores, Cut Yourself In Half merge fun with cruelty. I like the fine line they’re walking. Mekkanizm is out via New Heavy Sounds on October 29.

— Doug Moore

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