July 27, 2017

Couch Slut - Contempt

By Matt Hinch. When I sat down to start reviewing Couch Slut's latest, Contempt I first re-read my review of their previous effort, My Life as a Woman to make sure I didn't repeat myself. I felt like I did a pretty good job on that one but also doubtful I could do it again.
By Matt Hinch.


When I sat down to start reviewing Couch Slut's latest, Contempt I first re-read my review of their previous effort, My Life as a Woman to make sure I didn't repeat myself. I felt like I did a pretty good job on that one but also doubtful I could do it again. But Couch Slut has raised the bar on Contempt so I'm obligated to at least try. Putting together words about something this powerful is not an easy task.

If My Life was a shock and awe campaign, a complete surprise attack leaving a wasteland of broken dreams in its wake, Contempt is an extended stay at Guantanamo Bay where Couch Slut channel their own inner torture into the listener making them perpetually unsettled and fearful. Feedback and noise scrape against nerves, dry out brain fluid and allow Theo Nobel's deft thunder to beat your brain into a concussive state that much easier.

Stringed racket-makers guitarist Kevin Wunderlich and bassist Kevin Hall run you down with grimy, pummelling rhythms while throwing in groove and biting off a chuck of noise-rock that sticks in your teeth long after the force-fed meal has been digested on opener “Funeral Dyke”. Some skronky sax weirds things up as well and of course vocalist Megan Osztrosits gets right to brass tacks with her chilling and feral screams.

There's actually a lot of unconventionality on Contempt whether I hear it or not. Like the concert bells during the otherwise “straightforward”, vicious and intense “Penalty Scar”. Weirdness comes at random on “Company Picnic Dust Off”, dropping in on the sick bass and just plain mean riffs. This is also the first of three tracks in which Meg sounds REALLY unhinged beneath the darkness of her bandmates devastating blend of noise-rock, sludge, doom and whatever the hell else they want.

The second of which is “Snake in the Grass” and the third (“Folk Song”) I'll get to later. “Snake” has a doomy plod to it with airy sections and a solo that keeps things light but still tinged with sorrow, teasing of a peace that never comes due to Meg's drawn out screams.

Come to think of it, Meg loses her mind on “Summer Smiles” and “Won't Come” too. Every song on here in fact! The former though brings melody, evil riffs, crumbled skyscrapers and a definite KEN mode feel. The latter lets the listener down easy to finish the album off, relatively speaking.

So let's talk about “Folk Song”. Slow, dirgy, crushing doom gets flavoured with a simmering black metal smoke. The band provides the beating while Meg screams your spine straight out of your body. It's at this point my defences broke. I was literally moved to tears. Meg really lets you feel her pain. It's so unnerving, so deeply unsettling. As a dude, who really has no reason to feel that kind of pain, I can't help but feel for her and the women she represents. I can't imagine living with that inside. Sure, I get mad and yell but then it's over. I don't know Meg that well but well enough to know it's real. (Just read the lyrics and you'll know too.) It makes me wonder about similar vocalists like those in Cloud Rat or Closet Witch or B2D or any vocalist that jumps into a completely different person on stage. Do they live life with that in their heads too?

I want to say it's art as catharsis but that would imply catharsis has been reached. But for Meg to perform with that kind of personal intensity over and over again those demons must remain and are unleashed to wreak auditory havoc only to return and refuel for the next assault. Sort of like Cyclops of the X-Men. The destructive energy is contained until the blinders are removed and everything gets blown to bits. Which persona is the true self?

Contempt isn't all about the vocals/lyrics though. This would be a killer album full of sick riffs, meaningful songs and engaging arrangements no matter who manned the mic. Uh, wielded the mic rather. It's just so well put together mixing doom, sludge, black metal and noise-rock (among others) that having the force that is Meg O. attempting to exorcise her demons on top of it takes Contempt to a (blood alcohol) level high enough to make you blind (possible with rage). Or maybe you just don't want to see the ugliness in this world she's screaming about. Either way it's enough to giv e you contempt for humanity as a whole.

Prepare to be torn apart.

Tagged with 2017, Couch Slut, Gilead Media, Matt Hinch, noise rock, sludge metal
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