Devastating is a perfect descriptor of the noisy, violent and sludge-filled sound on the New York based duo Twin Lords full length debut Devastating Planetary Shift. The seven tracks contained within offer a wide variety of sounds and do it with sharp blades to your heart, mind and ears. Drummer Andrew Hernandez mines the dark feel of his old band Tombs and even though there’s a lot of differing sounds, darkness is the running theme. It seeps in ever so slowly but fully envelops you by album’s end.
The sound this band conjures is simply bone rattling with Andrew’s drumming and the bass/vocal duties from Dan Alex Rivera. “Rise” only hints at what’s to come but kicks the album off with a brooding sense of despair and attitude. The riffs are low slung and the way the fret work rises and falls, it lends to the helpless emotions in the strangling power of the chords. Combined with the emphatically yelled vocals the disparity here is palpable.
“Till Time’s End” opens in much the same fashion but steps on the accelerator at the halfway mark, transitioning from noise rock to powerviolence. Violent is precisely what it sounds like, ear shatteringly fast, angular percussion and chord bending chaos on the bass. There is a fever pitch in the vocals now, unheard to this point and sounding like the grip on sanity is nearing release. Back and forth pacing between slow and blinding fast is done in mere seconds and without missing a beat. “Arithmaphobia” hits a frenzied pacing once more but this time it’s instruments only. The shortest track of the lot but also among the deadliest. A close tie would be “The Fear,” differing only in the extremity of the vocal delivery.
Best track pick for me is the closer, “Why Am I.” The track is longer in length which allows the band to stretch out and show its capabilities. In different fashion than any other song here, this one begins with a long slow build of murky sludge that puts an exclamation mark on the dark and ominous feeling that has lurked in the background until now. The pained vocals carry an added intensity and the cymbal usage, crashing with every other note, give a heft to the overall sound. The closing couple of minutes shift seemingly on a dime to a mix of noise and grind done in such a way that reminds me of the more progressive styles of free form jazz.
One thing that stood out in early listens, Devastating Planetary Shift is completely different than anything I’ve heard this year. The tones and mixture of so many styles keeps every song interesting and glues the listener to the edge of their seat. After several spins I’ve only begun to peel back the many layers of this album and with its relatively short run time it never overstays its welcome. The wall of sound this band makes is immense and the fact that there’s just two of them makes it that much more of a triumph. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path that has teeth and isn’t afraid to bite, you won’t do better than this.