In review: THE NO – VOLUME ONE (FAUSTIAN HAUS, 2020)

Words: James Frostick
Band image: Max Goodman
Cover art: Yuta Matsumura

Sydney/Warrang-based post-punk crew The No (featuring members of EXEK, Whores and Circle Pit) have dropped a new tape of vicious brain-sundering clatter. Boasting lashings of operatic goth rock and the nervy unpredictability of fellow Australian murk-punk noisemakers, Volume One is a noxious and narcotic wonder, enlivening and viscerally immediate.

After a few back-to-back listens of The No’s new full-length Volume One I’ve been turned to mud. Either that or I’ve been pushed down into the mud, knocked there and kept there by the punishing pressure the group applies for 42-fucking-minutes. It’s a good vantage point to take in the gloomy and rough splendour of the record – it’s like The No are keen to bring you down a few levels so you can see where they’re coming from. The band consists of a murderer’s row of devastatingly talented musicians whose fingerprints can be found smudged on releases from Low Life, EXEK, Whores, Atrocities, Circle Pit and likely more. If that pedigree doesn’t give you some sense of what’s coming, then all I can say is hold on to your hat. On Volume One The No channels the same sense of big-city desperation seen through the lens of gunked-up gothic post-punk ferocity – gritty and gnashing but not without its own kind of bruised beauty.

Across the record’s runtime, The No forcefully manhandle their instruments to the extreme, begetting a caustic racket that is part white-knuckled punk fury and part exorcism (or sorcerous summoning). It’s as if they were raised on a diet of Venom P. Stinger, The Fall, The Danse Society, The Chameleons and Christian Death. Wide-eyed, haunted and restless. There’s a chilled element to the instrumentation akin an icy burn. The guitars oscillate between angular scalpel-like sharpness and scuffing buzz while the percussion moves from pulverising stomp to crashing flail and back again. The vocals similarly swing – haunting mono-tonal evocations quickly rise into pained howls, heightening Volume One’s intensity by merely shifting the register. There’s anguish, anxiety and madness at play. A wired urgency saturates the album’s entirety – a need to expel pollutants eroding the body and soul. I’m held in place by the grim strength of someone whose spent years clinging to the precipice, fighting for every inch won. Despite its dissonant leanings, The No’s sound is fairly clean – the band eschews junkyard fidelity in favour of a pointed clarity that renders The No’s warts and all in sharp focus. Dynamic and exciting – I may be in the mud, but this kind of stuff makes me feel more alive than anything. Listen here:

There were tapes of Volume One available but I think they’ve all sold out. keep an eye on Faustian Haus for a second wave. 

BANDCAMP