Noisem – Agony Defined Review

Stickum: a sports adhesive intended to improve the grips of athletes on such devices as footballs, baseball bats, and vaulting poles.

Noisem: a Baltimore-produced sound adhesive intended to affix itself to your mortal form before ripping away flesh and turning bone to fine powder in a maelstrom of violence and fury.

All jokes about the band’s unintentionally humorous moniker aside, these thrashers are about nothing but sheer, unadulterated aggression. Debut Agony Defined is the kind of visceral skull shattering intended for the thrash fan that finds even early Kreator to be far too dynamic and nuanced. It’s a fitting style for a band so young and full of rage (all members are between 15 and 20), and for one who on Facebook describes their musical genre as “loud fast stuff.” Call it death / thrash if you want, but it is mostly certainly fast (only 26 minutes long), and it would be very wrong to deny its nature of being very fucking loud.

The most obvious influences on Agony Defined come from the more extreme side of the thrash coin. Touches of Slayer pop up everywhere, but not to the degree of plagiarism. Both the descending riff pattern in “Rotten Remains” and ascending passage in “Split From The Inside Out” give off a distinct Hell Awaits feel, but the atmosphere and reverb is stripped away, letting the energy and momentum do the work. Likewise with the Kreator influence, nothing sounds directly lifted, but there is a very Pleasure To Kill-like sense that at any moment the music could spiral out of control; but it never does. The death metal side of the band is less easy to define – vocals are throaty and somewhere halfway between death and thrash, and blast beats appear only sparingly – but the forwardly forceful nature in much of the riffage gives off a serious Vader vibe.

But what really sets Noisem apart is the drumming, which is played with enough murderous intent to make even flower music seem metal. A very Lombardo-like employment of the ride cymbal is not only appreciated but placed at quite opportune times (final moments of “Mortuary” utilize the CLANG to great effect). Then there is that bass drum. It’s simply impossible to not imagine 100 excited teenage metalheads pumping their fist in maniacal joy to every last bass drum hit on this album. It is re-lent-less, and fucking constant. To say that it also increases the Vader vibe is an understatement, as it really calls to mind the Polish greats’ ability to THUD THUD THUD better than about anyone, ever.

Unlike other relentless thrash bands reviewed around these parts lately, Noisem seems to really get it, and inject just enough personality to raise Agony Defined above the many like-minded albums. As a debut, this a fucking blast, and shows a ridiculous amount of promise considering the youth of the band. As an album, it hardly brings anything new to the table, but there’s so much palpable attitude bursting out of the thing that it’s impossible to deny Noisem’s glorious purity.

Got a good feeling we’ll be hearing from these dudes again. Loud fast stuff is their business, and even at this early stage, business is quite good.

Posted by Zach Duvall

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Obnoxious overuser of baseball metaphors.

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