There’s something to be said for music that sounds like it was recorded inside the rotting asshole of weeks-old roadkill. Although, obviously, what is said about that kind of decomposing noise depends on how much you enjoy the dankest and rankest recesses of the audio spectrum. Personally, I’m all in favor of music that grows ever more corrosive or septic with every passing second, and if you’re also a fan of über-caustic bands then the red-raw primitivism of Dry Insides might tickle your receptors too.
Dry Insides is a raucous one-man band helmed by multi-instrumentalist and artist Reuben Sawyer. His band’s issued a scattering of ear-piercing EPs and demos since 2012, and all of them have essentially fused the snarl of early black metal with blown-out hardcore. Obviously, a baseline of Venom + Discharge or Black Flag isn’t an original amalgam. But Dry Insides’ latest EP, Deformity, shows there are plenty of ways to mix ’n’ mangle those untamed elements.
For a start, Dry Insides entirely avoids the sphere of metalpunk where heavy metal remains firmly in the driving seat 24/7. Instead, while both black metal and hardcore clearly fuel Dry Insides’ engine, those genres are throttled by harsh noise rock on Deformity, meaning the band often sounds like an even more abrasive Brainbombs covering Bathory or Ildjarn (sans Old Nick or any misty fjords or mountaintops).
Deformity’s lo-fi (and, in parts, no-fi) production ensures every sound within oozes like a cankerous ulcer. But Dry Insides’ entire aesthetic—from songwriting to artwork to strident musicality—is also extremely crude. Deformity’s eight songs duly feature coarse instrumentation framed by walls of distortion, and the result is a stripped-down squall of grating noise. If you’re a fan of lo-fi subterranean bands like Utzula, Bone Awl, or Raspberry Bulbs, then Deformity’s astringent sound will likely hit the mark. But if you’re looking for something with hidden depths, then Deformity is quite possibly the very worst place to start.
Churning tracks like “Worms in the Sun”, “Dawn of the Skull”, and “Half Body” feature a couple of primordial riffs backed by relentlessly no-frills percussion and disfigured vocals—and structure wise, that’s about it. Tonally, choking guitar prowls and growls (while feedback screeches) on songs like “Human?”, “Around the City” and “Restless Future” as well. And, again, it’s just raw and wretched noise made for even bleaker times.
You could make the point that raw simplicity has a certain cache nowadays, but there are no post-whatever deconstructions occuring on Deformity. Dry Insides simply sets about mutilating the band’s influences while constructing a red-lining narrative that is, in the end, both shrewdly shaped and utterly feral. Interestingly, for all its overt ugliness, Deformity also exhibits a fairly hypnotic cadence. Although, I guess that isn’t too surprising given the mesmeric tempo of a lot of rhythmically stark music.
I really enjoyed Deformity, in all its many shades of horribleness. But one person’s enthralling elixir is always another’s poison. Understandably, Deformity’s rudimentary and unpolished character will present an insurmountable challenge for a few listeners. Fair enough, too. If you’re going to strip your sound down to its barest and rawest components, then the outcome risks being far too skeletal and dissonant for some. Although, I’d argue it’s that raw-boned dissonance that makes Deformity such a great release.
Exploring crude creative pathways certainly means that Dry Insides cuts straight to the nastiest and bitterest marrow. And Deformity features as much black metal nihilism as it does punk rock insolence (and vice versa). So the EP ranks high on the deliberately disagreeable scale. Ultimately, though, Deformity isn’t for everyone. It’s an obnoxious lo-fi racket that leaches abscessed noise, and while those are positives in my book, not everyone is going to be spellbound by Deformity‘s crudity or its primitivism. That said, if you enjoy luxuriating in filthy metalpunk swamps, take note: Deformity‘s revolting mires make for a beautifully grotesque place to wallow.