Machinepunk-metal duo The Austerity Program get by on a steady diet of power, mystique and sheer orneriness. Their output is considerably limited-only one full-length album and two EPs in the course of five years. And the songs on those albums are essentially untitled, labeled instead with markers such as “Song 25” or “Song 12.” This can be interpreted as either Sigur Rós style philosophical ephemera, or perhaps just evidence that they don’t really give a fuck. The truth is perhaps somewhere between the two.
When it comes to composition, however, Thad Calabrese and Justin Foley most certainly give a fuck. As evident on new EP Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn, their first set of new material in three years, the duo dramatically maintain a balancing act between suspense-filled open space and punishing feats of sonic destruction. Neither as sludgy or spastic as many of their Hydra Head bandmates, the duo find their niche in a realm closer to The Jesus Lizard or Big Black, albeit with a bit more metal intensity. One thing’s for certain, however: this EP kicks ass.
“Song 25” slowly builds up from a sinister, yet quiet opening, as Foley plays the wicked carnival barker for the madness to come. Meanwhile, “Song 26” takes a much more direct approach, Calabrese’s bass gurgling and pounding steadily toward a woozy breakdown two minutes in, and ultimately a vicious guitar massacre. The industrial assault of “Song 27” is extreme, but oddly accessible, finding a rhythmic harmony in its punching bag progression. And the truly incredible “Song 29” is the most brutal shoegazer you’ll ever hear.
Neither the most prolific band nor one who cares to play by the rules that pop music dictates, The Austerity Program prove themselves exempt by simply being so awesome at what they do. Backslides and Apostates Will Burn is 20 minutes of the most awe-inspiring and most venomous noise rock to be released in 2010. Fingers crossed that we get another 20 minutes of this before 2013.
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.