Review: Weirds – Swarmculture

I first stumbled across this band in the best possible way for me; they were the support act at one of my favourite venues. This time in particular was in May last year at The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, supporting the mighty God Damn. They were one of those bands that didn’t just grab my attention but superglued it to the spot for the whole blistering set. So as you can imagine, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this album.

Recorded with Matt Peel (Pulled Apart By Horses, Eagulls) and set for release by Alcopop! Records on 26th May, this Leeds “psyche-grunge” four-piece wanted to create a “dark, heavy, psychedelic record which still had the pop structure and hooks to make people dance”. I’d say they achieved all of this and more!

Album opener “Things That Crawl” is a massive number which lulls you in with a laid back psychedelic intro and is utterly ripped apart by a huge riff and swell of noise around one minute in. This track is just under six minutes of sheer head-banging joy and I’ll admit I listened to it repeatedly before hitting on the rest of the album.

“Valley of Vision”, the first single from Swarmculture with its deliciously dark accompanying video (see below), wastes no time kicking off with a full on hard rock sound which immediately gets my head nodding in approval again. Distorted punk-like vocals give this track the edge, melodic yet brutal in its delivery makes this another stand out track for me.

By the time “Old World Blues” hits my ears, this album has me completely in its grip and it’s showing no signs of letting go. Heavy, sludgy guitars compounded with anarchic drums and intermittent vocal screams leave me open-mouthed. This track highlights the incredible level of musicianship being played out here; along with a sublime production which emphasises the depth and intensity of sound.

What I love about this album is the journey it takes you on, not only does every song twist and turn as it plays out but every track is a different and surprising delight to the one before. What Weirds do extremely well here is just be themselves; they’re not trying to fit into any particular genre or produce a specific sounding album. Hard garage-rock and grunge numbers intertwine beautifully with psychedelic soundscapes. “Black Desert” is a prime example of this as the album switches in a completely different direction, the keys add trippy sound waves which are infused with a heavy rock chorus – divine.

“Phantom” (second release from the album) is groove-laden and if you’re not already up and dancing, this is the track that’s gonna drag you up. Distorted guitars and feedback give this a real shoegaze sound. “Weird Sun” gives us six minutes of utter aural bliss. If there were a track to define Weirds, I’d say this was it because there is no definition. Try throwing some garage-rock with a psychedelic bass, fuzz-filled heavy riffs, thunderous drumming, dark stirring vocals and a cluster of effect pedals into a blender and you get this “super massive” post-punk smoothie. I’m aghast.

Flipping the album on it’s head once more comes the chilled, psyche-rock number “Crows” followed by the gorgeous “Salamander’s Sister” which yet again (just as you think you’ve sussed the sound) lets out a killer riff and provides a complete head mash. “Tunnelling” maintains this laid back pace initially then builds the layers of sound until you’re completely absorbed by this astral number.

Talk about saving the best ’til last: “Past Life” comes at you with an intense flood of sound, instantly drenched in heavy riffs and filthy bass grooves, Weirds have you completely under their control and there’s no escape – but who wants to? An incredible debut album whatever genre you’re in to. I can’t wait to hear these tracks played live in a couple of weeks at Camden Rocks. But if you can’t wait ’til then, their nine-date UK tour starts 31st May at Gullivers, Manchester.

Swarmculture is released 26th May

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