Redneck are horrid. Perhaps not uniquely so, but certainly through the walls of harsh violence and monolithic belligerence it’s apparent that this is a decent stab at the most savage and abrasive noise yet committed to record.
This album is more than questionably music, borderline unlistenable and defies honest review efforts, but beneath the oceanic weight of vicious static lies a musical resonance not unfamiliar to the clued-up metalhead.
Possession 1 starts with the sound of breaking glass and then develops into what sounds like a broken battleship being punched with a wet fish. This lasts for seventeen minutes. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be the noise of the painful and invasive inner-ear surgery I had a few years ago. If I had to compare this album with any other, it would be Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, an album of jointless guitar feedback deliberately designed to confuse and upset people. I listened to all of it whilst dusting my flat and it made me want to drink bleach.
That’s it. The review is over. Judging this album in the framework of a traditional rating every avenue has been explored and every nuance bored out; I could drag out the return of the breaking glass at the end of the album as a whiff of composition but I’d be lying to you and to myself. For starters, even dedicated metal fans will find this unlistenable. This is far beyond the realms of noise-metal; it lies further beyond Sunn O))) or Napalm Death or The Melvins’s experiments with noise. It’s a grind of putrid static from beginning to end with hints of baleful forest ambience. Why bother continuing? Surely anyone with the right budget and a really worrying misanthropic mindset could record something not dissimilar to a sad helicopter?
In order to understand something like this it’s necessary to judge it solely on its own aims. Whilst this album is certainly anti-song structure and anti-music, it’s going for atmosphere. This it achieves with aplomb. I felt claustrophobic in a way that nothing else has ever made me feel, not even enclosed spaces. Surely this must be some kind of achievement? Noise as an effect has been used by post-metal bands like Neurosis and Isis, though in moderation, to offset the cerebral weight of their misery; something that evokes disgust as a reflex in opposition to active thought.
I could be over-thinking all of this. There’s certainly an element of effort towards the last quarter of the album to make this as horrific an experience as possible beyond just static and glass-breaking. The intention behind projects such as these is to wildly challenge conventions of taste, canonical works and frameworks for judging music. Legendary arbiter John Peel realised this and adapted to it, which is why he went from his veneration of self-indulgent progressive rock to championing punk and eventually the early Earache bands. His realisation that both sides reacted against each other lent legitimacy to grindcore’s genesis; similarly, it would not hurt anyone who thought their tastes had grown stale to be exposed to something like this.
Are Redneck more performance art than music? Harsh noise has always wandered a strange line here. Throbbing Gristle and The Jesus Lizard all flirted with the avant-garde and the aforementioned grind mavericks Napalm Death took part in destructive installation art last year. Is something similar going on here? They’re much less high-concept, but there seems to be something lurking in the mist; a complete deconstruction of music, perhaps? At some kind of basic level, music is supposed to make you feel something. This made me feel genuinely nauseous, a quick google revealing that this is a common response to prolonged exposure to white noise.
There may be two hairy men somewhere out there giggling into their beards that they nearly made a reviewer on a metal site sick whilst he was simply trying to give decent bands exposure.
This is one of the few things I’ve ever experienced which defies analysis, forcing a natural response. That’s one of the reasons I was attracted to metal in the first place, and bizarrely, why I’ve grown oddly fond of it. But maybe in small doses.