originally written by Erik Highter
Noise rock is back. Not that it ever went away, but it certainly fell out of vogue from its ’90s heyday. It was like you could be noise – pure, filthy, id run amok shit – but you couldn’t incorporate that sort of atonal aggression into a song-based structure if you wanted folks to notice. Thankfully, bands have continued to mine the meeting point to great success, even if critics failed to acknowledge it, or called it something else (see KEN Mode, a noise rock band called metal by the press, even when metal was perhaps the smallest ingredient in their sound). But in 2014 it seems okay to once again acknowledge publicly that noise rock is not only alive and well, but one of the more vital and engaging parts of extreme music. Whether it’s Decibel’s recent noise issue or Melt Banana being one of the first announced bands for Maryland Death Fest 2015, noise is accepted once more.
Which brings us to PORD. This French trio has been making blistering, grinding noise rock for a dozen years, though Wild is only their second full-length release. However, it is the first number that matters here, not the relative paucity of material. Their longevity leads to a tightness only achievable through hundreds and hundreds of hours of playing; the jumps are sharp as knives, cutting time signatures and musical motifs like the deftest of surgeons. A song like “My Bloody Galantine” (a title I envy with all my heart), with its piercing guitar that is actually uncomfortable at high volumes or in good headphones, sums up their aesthetic quite well. It’s off-putting while weirdly catchy. After cringing to the chords of the verses, you can head-bang to the slow, inexorable build of the long middle section before full-on moshing to the final minute.
“What Are Tuesdays For?” they ask, and all music fans respond with, “new releases, duh!” (though maybe that isn’t true in France. I honestly have no idea). For PORD, Tuesdays are for inciting swirling violent pits, for churning charnel fires, for bass and drum workouts par excellence. There is someone yelling in the maelstrom, but fucked if I can figure out what it’s all about. Not that you or I should care; keep your elbows down and rage. Reap the whirlwind if you dare.
Though the aforementioned track and it’s follow-up, “Pools ‘n’ Chicks” satisfy the primal need to emulate the spin cycle of a washing machine, PORD have more to offer than merely grinding you like grist in the mill. The eleven and a half minutes of “On the Couch” are a mini-album all their own while still functioning as the heart and soul of Wild. From mosh-inducing to mesmerizing, the suite-like song shifts effortlessly from section to section. The frenzied beginning gives way to a progressive heavy vibe, which morphs smoothly from clean to dirty, the build truly hypnotizing. PORD play around with musical motifs; the rhythmic variations they play are matched by subtle changes in guitar voicing and chording. Repetition can be engaging, and the nuances of their approach makes “On the Couch” zoom to it’s sustained feedback coda.
Noise rock isn’t a dirty word. But Wild is a dirty album in all the ways that make noise rock such a visceral and inviting listen.