Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Possessing the kind of live firepower usually reserved for conflict zones, Wellington's All Seeing Hand deliver a menacing clash of electronics/turntables, smashing drums and throat-singing which can sound like Tibetan monks on speed or feedback.
They had people pinned to the walls of a silo when they played this year's Laneway.
Much of this album – which has a broad concept – will have the same effect but it does take a little time, err, clear its throat as it were.
Rather than opening with the expected metal bludgeon it rouses itself in a menacing manner over a doomscape with vocalist Jonny Marks intoning “we are red marrow . . . encased in this temple of bone”. And lyrically it's “dog eat dog”, the lizard brain awakening and what seems to be a death by fire in some cosmic cataclysm.
That arc is inscribed by increasingly intense sonics, the propulsive energy picks up in the second sonic landscape Jupiter's Moons and driven home with the pained and intense yowls of Swarm.
This isn't head-bang metalcore however, but more an inventive electro-prog which values minimalism as much as it does collision (check the measured title track which – in the musical backdrop at least – evokes the quieter moments of Bladerunner).
Given what they are capable of live (and we might guess this will come up especially menacing at that time), ASHand could have delivered a fist to the head, but they are smart enough to know the difference between an album for consideration and a gig you hang on in the hope of surviving.
If there's a failing here it is that some of this might have aimed for amore of that sonic attack they possess, perhaps more of the bandsaw and kidney punch.
However with additional voices -- and acoustic guitar on the final quiet, exotic and quite outstanding piece Rag And Bone -- the All Seeing Hand have carved out a territory so distinctive that it's hard to imagine anyone – only the foolhardy perhaps – would want to try to invade their turf.
Anyone who dares will be sent off as walking wounded.
If they are lucky.