Burden is a pressure cooker of sonic excess and pent up malevolence waiting to explode. ‘Take up space. Alone again.

Release date: May 3, 2024 | The Ghost is Clear Records | Bandcamp | Instagram

Vigilant readers of my work will find this to be the second time this year I have made it my business to spread the gospel of Doom Beach. This first time was when I got to write about the recent split between them and Chop Chop Chop Chop Chop Chop Chop (which you can read about here). This affair was a sonically dense and crushing piece of work where Doom Beach continued to evolve and ramp up their cataclysmic noise rock sound, miraculously being able to strike a perfect balance between stealing the show and leaving just enough space for their dance partner Chop to shine through on his side of the affair. If you haven’t listened to that record yet I recommend that you do, but that is not what we are here to discuss today. Today Doom Beach gets their very own moment to bask in the spotlight with their latest full length Burden. Sit down with some headphones, turn the volume up to 11, and take a ride with me and Doom Beach.

I got into the band with 2022’s Copperhead. Fans of that record or their earlier release Dark Arts will find more of what they already loved about those records here. Blown out and fuzzed up guitars intermingle with bombastic crashing percussion to create the world shaking anthems of noise rock heft. Listening to a Doom Beach record is the listening equivalent of having a pair of scissors bored through your eardrums in the middle of a high decibel concert. The already ear splitting sound becomes slathered in an extra layer of feedback and buzz. Fans of these scratchy textures will find no shortage of things to love here. But, Burden expands upon its predecessors by offering more in the way of variance and patience. Where Copperhead pummeled the listener relentlessly until they could no longer move, Burden looks to take its time with its audience, slowly building to a crescendo and then dropping them off the cliff to smack and bounce upon the jagged rocks below.

The title track and opener “Burden” managed to leave me both surprised and delighted the first time I heard it. Opening with a blaring drone of feedback, the track soon moves into plodding percussion linked at the hip with rumbling fuzzed out guitar chords. Occasionally a sharp ringing shot of cymbal will usher in strained screams. These screams nestle themselves up besides the shots of percussion, making sure they leave space in between for silence. The small shots of complete quiet in the mix leave room for the instrumentation to punch even harder when it does shoot back into your ears. These elements continue to build in an almost chant like fashion with every pass. The guitars get fuzzier, the vocals become more haggard, and the percussion becomes more deliberate. Eventually these elements build and build into a two minute blaring wall of guitars and trudging drums. This was my first sign that this record would be a different type of effort from Doom Beach. It was gonna take its time with me and look to squeeze all the air from my lungs.

Sometimes when Doom Beach isn’t trying to instill melancholic terror into their listeners they instead opt to fill them with a more subtle type of looming dread. This feeling is exemplified in the tracks “I”, “II”, and “III”. These tracks all take an ambient sort of angle with the soundscapes they choose to exemplify. They trade out the usually blaring volume of most of the band’s work for subtlety. The string of them almost seem to string together as sort of piece within a piece. In the tracklist as a whole they offer some necessary cooldown points in the tracklist, but when listened to one after another outside of their normal album context, they form a weird little ambient noise rock experience.

The light drone on “I” perfectly led into the increased tempo in percussion and slightly increased volume of “II”, only for these elements to build into a rolling crescendo on “III” where the band reached the only truly loud moment on these three tracks. Pulling apart a record’s track list and listening to things out of order is usually something I am ideologically against but the harmony these three pieces create with one another was simply too detailed and perfect to neglect noting here.

“III” leads right into possibly the very best moment of the whole album with the closing track “Gentle Leap”. At this point the band has pulled every trick out they can. They have constricted and expanded their vise grip around the listener, and all that is left is to stick the landing. The finale certainly does that. It brings everything the record has been doing right the whole time straight to a fine needlepoint in its almost 3 minute runtime. Rolling percussion leads us into the track, as if we are strapped to a runaway car flying towards a brick wall. Eventually the car smashes into the brick wall of monstrous guitars, causing them to warp and twist around the percussion, creating a sound I can only liken to a building falling down on itself. This record sounds like the end of the world, and “Gentle Leap” is its final death rattle.

Burden flings its weight upon the listening, slowly pressing them into the soles of their feet, and forcing them to contend with the harsh magnitude of what they are hearing. It is a project rife with nuance to explore if you can stick your face into the fire. This is a contender for album of the year for me right now. Doom Beach is one of the very best things happening in underground music right now. Listen to Dark Arts. Listen to Copperhead. Listen to Burden. You don’t want to miss something special.

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