In Review: EXHAUSTION – BIKER (AARGHT RECORDS, 2014)

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With Biker, Exhaustion traps you in a boiler room and extracts sweat like it’s a blood price; at its most expansive, Exhaustion lets you wallow in delirious, blissful repugnance.

A lot has already been set about hard-hitting brutalists, Exhaustion. Their first LP, Future Eaters, showcased a predilection for splintered fury – severing expectation and cauterising the proof leaving many astonished at the reality. Exhaustion established themselves as the most forceful of forces, and Biker emerged earlier this month to see about maintaining past trends.

For such a heavy sound, Biker is quite buoyant thanks in most part to the utter relentlessness of Jensen Tjhung on bass and Per Byrstrom on the drums. Not once in this album does this duo let the momentum stall, picking the hapless listener up and carrying them through the album. Duncan Blatchford coerces his guitar to emit unspeakable noises, taking it on tangents and asides, into chasms and through saw mills.

Exhaustion have made an effort to explore and enforce the foundations of their structure in order build even higher in scale. ‘Twin Lights’ and ‘Hard Left’ are two examples of sprawling compositions that revel in finding new spaces to probe and drill. Punk is traditionally short and fast, but Exhaustion aren’t in a hurry – a few extra breaths and a couple of extra beats and they can hypnotise and hold attention spans forever. Once you are hooked, the band resumes the pummel and you surrender to basic instincts. It’s an interesting dichotomy, which makes Biker a unique beast.

Mess+Noise’s Max Easton said it best when he wrote that Biker is “ravenous in its scope, lending the record a sense of imbalance, but the lost clarity makes for surreal examinations.” Yes, Biker is a tough steak to chew, full of bone and gristle. The reward is being able to share in the reckless obsession of the beat and embrace unshackling of the psyche. At its most abrasive, Biker traps you in a boiler room and extracts sweat like it’s a blood price; at its most expansive, Exhaustion lets you wallow in delirious, blissful repugnance.

Does all of this mean the band maintains its status as one of the more interesting acts in the heavy end of the underground? Undoubtedly yes, but the scary part is how much they have managed to grow in the muck they planted their seeds. There is more viscous punk where Biker came from, I’m sure of it.

AARGHT SOUNDCLOUD / AARGHT RECORDS