If Nazca Lines excel at anything, it’s at making a lot of noise. On the aptly named Hyperventilation, the band’s second album, the Seattle-based quartet goes into a state of literal sonic hyperventilation. Crashing through 10 songs with barely a second to breathe, they come back with a bang after taking five years to tour and promote the release of their first album, 2007’s Cremation/Cruises. With producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear) in tow, Nazca Lines will take you on a bumpy ride.
Nazca Lines have one mode: loud and raw. Hyperventilation is bombastic, unrelenting. Vocalist and guitarist Cory Alfano spits venom on “Bones in Boxes,” backed by churning guitars ripping into the melody. Guitarist Brett Weeding and Alfano have a knack for making a welcome texture from layers of hard, rocking chords, as on “Swedish Kiss” and “From the Bottom of a Crevasse.” The duo show off their skills on “Spike Them All”—arguably the album’s best moment—with a mesmerizing, obsessive riff, driving the song with unconfined energy. “The Ghost” also finds the guitarists playing off each other, building on each other’s melodies in a rare lull between choruses, notes mixing and blending together.
Despite its moments of instrumental finesse, Hyperventilation leaves much to be desired. Alfano’s gruff, grainy vocals are grating, letting up only for spoken-word lines dripping with melodrama on “This Little Island” and “This Crip’led Devil.” The only slow songs, if they can be called that, are “Four Foxes” and “New Volume,” but they fall prey to the same theatrical passion as “This Little Island.” As pissed-off as Alfano and Nazca Lines might sound, there’s still something missing: a sense of authenticity. All of the growling and quick-talking doesn’t convey the kind of gritty punk rock angst you can feel deep in your bones. Hyperventilation is mostly a lot of noise, but it’s noise with promise. Maybe they just need to stop hyperventilating and ask themselves, as Alfano does on “Golden Sunsets,” where do we go from here?