Punk rock has made some remarkable progress over the years, to the point that one of its best albums last year came in the form of a double-LP-length concept album about a factory worker in 1980s Britain. Yet, for how far punk has come in the last 35 years, sometimes it’s still at its most effective when played the fastest, loudest and most reckless way possible. Denmark’s hardcore punks in Lower understand and practice this philosophy of “faster, louder, noisier.” And on new EP Walk on Heads, the band requires only a scant eight minutes to leave their unforgiving impact.
Somewhat similar to the raucous post-punk crafted by their fellow Danish countrymen in Iceage, Lower turn abrasion into a popular art form. There are discernible hooks and melodies in the fiery muck they sling, and for that matter, four spectacular songs. But what truly sells this 7-inch EP is the sheer power the band harnesses. A harsh screech of feedback opens up the menacing assault of “Craver,” and the distortion is set so high that it continues to creep back at every rest between chords, but the ominous bassline and powerful pulse makes it more than an exercise in noise, but a compelling balance between two opposing forms of sinister. There’s a more straightforward stomp to “Pictures of Passion,” a driving power-chord punch to “Escape,” and on “Lethargy,” an unsettling confluence of eerie minor chords and an unrelenting energy that feels on the verge of collapse throughout.
Walk On Heads breaks in, trashes the place and storms out before the listener even gets the opportunity to say, “What the hell was that?!” Which isn’t to say you’ll miss it if you blink. In fact, you’ll remember every chaotic moment, most likely. It’s reckless destruction, of course, but it’s the kind that’s worth re-living, regardless of the damage done in its wake.
Stream: Lower – “Craver”
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.