Trying to find a starting point to talk about Clean Hands, the first proper full length from Philly's Ladder Devils is not an easy thing. Because it's just so damn fun to listen to. And try as I might there's a similarity to a band I just can't put my finger on despite the list of names I'll drop later and it's gnawing at me.
The easiest place to start I suppose would be that these boys make a lot of noise. Taking a template of post-hardcore and noise rock, they inject a fierce energy and enthusiasm. This is most apparent in how there is rarely just one voice doing the singing. Similar to early Kylesa but that's still not the reference I feel.
On tracks like “Nameless, Faceless” you can get a feel like you'd get from Cancer Bats. A spitting vengeance over cascading noisy melodies and gnarly low end with guitar-swinging hardcore recklessness. That moves into “Feeling is Natural” which showcases their grungier influences, in particular Local H, at least vocally (also on “Eyes of the Mundane”). It also contains some of their nastier downstroke power.
Throughout, Ladder Devils move with a punk swagger and bounce married up tightly with infectious riffs, vocals and energy. That game plan makes the sad carnivalesque “Land of Beauty” stand out with its slower cadence and piano touches.
That they've done splits with Kowloon Walled City and Fight Amp makes perfect sense as they too bring a thunderous low end and gnarly tone to the dissonance, noise and sweaty attitude.
The sonic vistas of guitar melody on “Remember the Tooth”, the incredibly upbeat “Midnight Eyes” and its loud indie rock vibe, and the KEN Mode-styled sludge quality of “The Combine” only add to the melting pot of sounds to be found on Clean Hands. Despite the diversity, or perhaps because of it, it still all sounds like Ladder Devils. The band cites Nirvana and The Pixies as influences as well, and one can hear the rubbery hardcore of Norma Jean or the Chariot in there too.
I still haven't nailed down that one familiarity that eludes me but maybe there isn't one. Maybe Ladder Devils combine a wide range of sounds so effortlessly that everything comes together so invitingly that the mind is tricked. It doesn't really matter though as Clean Hands is an incredibly fun and fantastic experience.
I'm not sure what a ladder devil is though.
Note: If you want to support the band directly, you can get Clean Hands for a slightly higher price at the Ladder Devils own Bandcamp.