Blistering hardcore songs transmitted from the edge of an uncontrollable dystopian inferno is well-worn territory, but Geld‘s abrasive sonic onslaught only douses the flames in gasoline. The twelve flamethrower raveups on the band’s 2020 sophomore album Beyond the Floor came caked in a layer of feedback and distortion that shrieked and squealed their way through a harrowing labyrinth of loathing and disgust. Hardcore has sounded this angry and this loud before, but rarely has it felt so prone to spontaneous combustion.
Well versed in the vintage brutality of hardcore progenitors such Negative Approach and Poison Idea, G.I.S.M. and Discharge, Australia’s Geld are neither classicists nor a crossover act in the vein of Turnstile. At the core of their songs are power chords and lyrical bile, but their method of delivery involves a caustic textural approach that sounds extra unruly and particularly nasty. At its wildest and weirdest, there’s a vibrational, layered sensibility that can feel like the mind-bending chaos of a band like Comets on Fire fit for crowdkilling. Even if the members of the band, themselves don’t particularly consider it “psychedelic”—though they don’t necessarily object to that either.
As they make the leap to a higher-profile label presence with the release of Currency//Castration via Relapse, Geld aren’t offering a more polished version of their shrieking hardcore but rather one that’s more explicitly tied to its most punishing roots. Originally intended in its early stages as a hardcore EP, Currency//Castration took shape after the group crossed that six-song threshold and simply kept going, and in the process soaked some of their one- and two-minute scorchers in several coatings of effects. Their approach is often direct, always uncompromising, but with an intensity that surpasses even their previous two full-length dustups.
In less than four minutes, Geld are off to a brief and bombastic start, ripping through three sub-two-minute rippers in a run that leaves no ambiguity about their intent. This is a band hell-bent on making some righteous but highly focused noise, burning through an efficient and highly potent set of songs with maximum impact. It’s in the fourth song, “Clock Keeps Crawling,” where more elements of noise rock and post-punk begin to seep through, swiftly revealing further implements of destruction in their bag of holding. They deliver squealing noise-rock riffs on “The Fix Is In,” abstract disorientation in “Across a Broad Plain,” and metallic d-beat gallop on “Secret Prison.” If and when they offer a moment of respite, it’s fleeting at best; Geld play loud and fast, as if it were a matter of survival.
Where the sound is scorched-earth, Currency//Castration is heavily composed of songs detailing an internal strife—less fuck-the-world than the-world-has-fucked-us. Vocalist Al Smith’s distorted growl is a fitting shock to the system paired with the band’s ferocious body blows, a form of introspection that feels like punch to the gut. In “Success” he questions the point of ladder-climbing in a rigged capitalist system (“What is gold when society falls? /Are you proud of your coveted spot?“), but finds only a struggle from within on “The Fix Is In”: “I can’t tell when I’m tempting fate/I don’t know why I’m a fake.” In the album’s bleakest moments, like on “Fog of War,” Smith’s message is simply that of certain doom: “You’re void of all hope.”
The beauty of music this violent and kinetic is that it never allows itself—or we, as listeners—to become mired in that sense of doom. Geld never stop moving throughout the 23 minutes on Currency//Castration, less as a means of escape than of confronting a burning world and finding the strength to stand a little closer to the fire. But they also understand that one of the basic tenets of hardcore is that, when played at maximum speed and ferocity, it’s undeniably, absurdly fun. Fucking shit up good and proper does wonders for the soul.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.