Record label: React With Protest
To say that this was eagerly awaited for me is certainly an understatement. I’ve been bugging the poor guys for the last six months as to when it would come out. Now it’s finally here! It might be worth noting that I genuinely can’t remember the last time I was actually excited for a UK band to release their new album. It’s certainly been a few years.
Having been brooding away in London and Ashford for the last couple of years, BOW 359 have been honing their sound over a couple of demos and two split 7 inches (one with Singaia, one with Kaddish, both essential) and have now produced the eight tracks that make up The Death of Affect. Describing BOW 359’s sound can be a bit tricky, as they switch quite effortlessly from a storm of raging, chaotic hardcore fury to more contemplative ‘quiet’ (but no less ominous) sections in the blink of an eye.
If one was to draw loose comparisons then the likes of Shikari and Orchid are in the same ball park but you also need to couple the low-end rumble of crusty hardcore stalwarts like His Hero Is Gone and Union of Uranus. In other words, they’re very, very heavy and very, very good. Amongst their strengths is an ability to pummel with relentless blasting drums and screeched vocals but all the time maintaining a searing sense of yearning melody, never losing focus amongst the chaos and making the songs all the more memorable. Full marks as well for coming up with some pretty nifty time signatures but not letting this get in the way of the song writing.
I feel a lot of bands trying similar styles often sacrifice aggression for melody, or vice versa, but BOW 359 has got the balance perfect. Literally every track has an, ‘Oh my god’ moment, from the crushing riff that comes in the final moments of ‘Surveiller’ to when ‘Cyberdine’ explodes into bludgeoning d-beat, or on album closer ‘Glenfield’ where an incredibly melancholic subdued section erupts into emotive catharsis, this album is almost staggering in how good it is.
Mention must also go to lyrics and vocals, with the former being pretty bleak and the latter backing them up in a way that can only be described as throat shredding.
Matching the rage of the music are the socio-political and personal outbursts, both vocalists have separate sections of lyrics, that are laid out in the incredibly handsome booklet that comes with quotes from a variety of sources.
One indicator of what this album holds is found when turning over the booklet to find the following Aldrous Huxley quote staring back at you, “If human beings were shown what they were really like, they’d either kill one another or hang themselves as vermin”. Bleak stuff indeed and when combined with the amazing record layout, with gorgeous woodcut illustrations from Frans Masereel depicting the panic and overwhelming isolation of our modern cities, you truly have a hardcore record for the end times.