Just loud enough
Most bands never really get loud. Sure, people will say that ACDC or their favorite metal band, hell, even The Who, are loud bands. To a degree they’re right, but if you never saw those groups live, when they really were loud, is that the word you’d use to describe them? Some bands truly embody volume and build it into the core of their identity, and as production has gotten slicker and slicker, groups like Girl Band, Daughters and HEALTH have all decided that the future is dark, and more importantly, the future is ear-splittingly loud.
Most records don’t sound loud. People tend to assume that an album is only loud if you tell it to be loud, after all, you’re the one in control of the volume knob. But a band like Daughters is overwhelming even at the lowest of volumes. There’s a real sense that if you listen to it for long enough, even from a room away, that your ears will ring for months, and why shouldn’t they? Take the opening track “City Song” for example. The track opens with a low grumbling synth before being pierced through by a deafeningly raw snare hit. People unfamiliar with Daughters will see this as a sort of industrial sound, something slow and plodding, and to some degree, they aren’t wrong. The beginning of this song is menacing and heavy, but the back half devolves into something else completely. Huge blasts of static play backing to the sounds of someone being tortured, before the album takes a much darker turn.
Loudest of all on the record is “The Flammable Man.” A positively wild track that adds portions of hardcore punk to the noisy industrial sound that was already being cultivated. Coming in as the fourth track in the album gives it an excellent opportunity to pick up the record’s pace, providing a brief reprieve from the dense, heavy sound that previous tracks offered. Utilizing swirling guitars and a steady, heart-pounding drum beat, the track propels the album into its latter half with a bang.
The last major standouts on the record are “Guest House” and “Ocean Song.” “Ocean Song” is a seven-minute epic that sees itself work through multiple evolutions over its runtime. Much of the track is focused on a cultivating a nightmarish soundscape, that, were it conducted with synthesizers and not guitars, would work wonderfully behind a John Carpenter film. The true highlight of the track comes in the final two minutes as the singing reaches a frantic pace before finally yielding to a wash of amplifier feedback that threatens the listener with deafness even at the quietest of volumes. Then as soon as your eardrums feel they have peace, closing track deaf house hits you directly across the face. Much of the track consists of a panicked drum beat and hysterical screaming of the phrase “I’ve been knocking and knocking, let me in!” The effect is immediate and visceral; it is as though the instruments are scoring a chase and the lyrics are the dialogue of a soon to be helpless victim, and while the rest of the record is excellent, Daughters reach their maximum potential on this blast furnace of a closer.
Sometimes life doesn’t need to be quiet. These days it seems the focus on peace has reached into nearly every facet of life, and while GAS and Brian Eno’s ambient projects certainly have their place, man cannot subsist on ambient alone. It’s often valuable to remind ourselves of the chaos present on this planet. Loud music reaches a space that we are rarely put in. It simulates stress and aggression—dangerous, unpleasant emotions that we are often forced to face in uncontrolled environments. But when these same emotions are caused by something we love and know will force us to face these feelings, it can be one of the most cathartic experiences. So turn up the volume. Just once won’t hurt you—hell, it might even help.