Linda Aust

14:20 25th November 2010

Last night London’s venue du jour XOYO hosted Brooklyn noise-rockers A Place To Bury Strangers’ long awaited return to London and with a band that describes their music as ‘sonic annihilation’, the nuclear bunker atmosphere of XOYO presented the perfect background for a spectacularly brooding and intense show.

Oliver Ackerman’s troupe of instrument tormentors kick off proceedings with a lightshow that’s in equal parts Nine Inch Nails and Ministry of Sound on a Saturday night, but apart from the visual magnificence of the show, what’s most notable about A Place To Bury Strangers is the immense volume of their music.  Turned up to the maximum of what’s humanly bearable, the band blast out tunes so loud, it makes it easy to understand why APTBS called their most recent album ‘Exploding Head’.

Underneath the barrage of noise what shines through is the tuneful beauty of APTBS. Like now demised fellow noise-experimentalists Snow White, APTBS compose incredibly catchy tunes to then bury those tunes in about 6476 amplified noise layers, which give their music a unique and slightly terrifying force.  This musical assault can be well and truly felt in the venue once APTBS dive head first into  ‘In Your Heart’, which essentially sounds like Jesus and the Mary Chain making out with Fuck Buttons and then breaking each others’ guitars.

‘It Is Nothing’ with its vigorous bass lines and potent guitars equals a speeding unstoppable train that transforms into a wrecking ball, exploding and covering everything in noise at the end of its monstrous journey.

Shrouding their songs in an atomic wall-of-sound, ABTBS manage to maintain intensity throughout their entire set. Under the squealing guitars and explosive bass thunder lies a tunefulness that escapes most traditional bands. ‘To Fix The Gash In Your Head’, one of the most outstanding tracks on their debut, pulverized the audience and sees Ackermann throwing his guitar about like a man possessed. The brutality of the instrumental distortion along with the emotional intensity of the, admittedly barely audible, lyrics guarantees a rich texture that thrives on blown-out, post–apocalyptic and static-soaked dynamics.

APTBS’ tunes are majestic, they are grand and they are certainly awe inducing. The sonic bedlam created by Ackermann's uneven monotone and his band’s blistering beats create an enormously dense and dark atmosphere that remains unequaled in today’s musical landscape.

Everyone’s ears are ringing at the end of the show, and everyone loves it that way.

Photo: Leo Horsfield