The Altered Hours are the type of band that at one time would have been considered rock/metal, with their dreamy psych rock sound that at times border into the late 80’s punk rock sounds reminiscent of Sonic Youth and others. Then things changed, the early nineties came and with it some genres of music were pushed into the mainstream charts; genres that had previously been considered metal and outsider and for bands that came in the wake of this, this is where they have stayed. So psych rock bands like The Altered Hours have in more recent times been missing from the metal scene and coverage because they are considered almost too alternative and therefore not metal.
It our job here at Moshville Times to challenge any status quo, let’s face it this is what we love about all things rock, the chance to challenge the norms and give you some good reasons why any band that leads with this type of punk attitude, has distorted guitars and hypnotic rhythms is worth listening to and on In Heat Not Sorry The Altered Hours make this argument hell of a lot easier.
“Who’s Saving Who” may be the opening song but by the end of the album you come to realise that held within its makeup is the key to what makes this album so special and really could be considered archetypal of The Altered Hours sound. Right from the feedback at the beginning, to the lo-fi production, choppy guitars that turn into a melodic psych rock intro and then both vocalists joining in together. It sounds effortless, dreamy, think My Bloody Valentine in their early days when they still knew how to play punk pop songs yet somehow they still manage to instil that punk mentality, at any moment the guitars distort and it seems as though the song is going to fall apart but they pull it back. The melodies kick back in and the duel vocals start again.
“Way of Sorrow” again reminds me of a harder edged My Bloody Valentine. There is a rhythm about Altered Hours that is relentless and underpins all that they do. The drums produce a steady rhythm and that choppy guitar that chugs forever onwards. This drone effect and repetitiveness is demonstrated many times throughout In Heat Not Sorry. “Rotting” is a small interlude that is just one such repetitive riff; dual guitars sparring against other but for no real purpose, this isn’t a show of talent, or even to further the album it’s almost like they are playing it because they can and they want to and fuck you they will and it is this spirit that is infused in all they do. Another reference that you can hear throughout the album is Veruca Salt and this is evident on “Silver Leather”.
“Birds” is a stand-out track, not least because it is very Sonic Youth-esque right down to the way that it builds and builds (and builds) in tension with vocals chanted over the top. This tension builds in such a way that you think the only way it can end is to explode and then its released again, gently. Sonic Youth are a reference you are going to hear a lot with The Altered Hours and it is an easy comparison to make. They have two lead vocalists swapping duties, sometime within the same song, they have raw and distorted guitars and songs that seem sometimes breakdown into chaos or a lost thought and the production is raw and lo-fi, very much of that mid to late eighties DIY scene
‘Saviours’ begins with a gentle piano and slight feedback, that seems to go on just a little too long just as you are wondering where this can go, the whole band joins in. This drone aspect to the psych rock is done so well. It is not overplayed, its seems like they are lost in their own moments and play until they are saturated before moving the song on again. Here the vocals are narrated, almost spoken word. The band hail from Cork, Ireland and this tradition of storytelling has found its way onto this record as well.
There are other little hints to The Altered Hours origins. On “Virgin Sleeve” the vocals are almost Celtic, ethereal even. The music is very understated, not quite folk but it is reminiscent of this. At times the vocals are layered given a monk feeling to the song. Again it is the relentless repetition of the rhythm section though that helps carry the song forward and adds dynamics within the song that would not be there otherwise
What I like about this album is that on one level it seems like psych/dream rock and on another level there is something subversive happening at a molecular level. So why should you take the time to listen? If you want to hear something that can transcend boundaries, often within the same song. Can be laid back, and dream pop like but subversive at the same time. An album that at times loses itself in itself, other times seems to forget is is there at all and then just as you think it’s is going to breakdown into nothing takes you somewhere else then In Heat Not Sorry is the album for you. A great debut from this band and it will be interesting to see where they go next because from this offering it could be anywhere form full on noise assault to Celtic ballads, I just hope that they continue to challenge each of us at every turn and refuse to compromise like they do on In Heat Not Sorry.
In Heat Not Sorry is out on January 29th