Pound ‒ •• Review

The new record by Seattle’s Pound, the title of which is just two dots, is absolutely bonkers. Bonkers. The most convenient way to describe it would be as an instrumental hybrid of Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan, but even that obvious bit of nuttery ignores the album’s truest traits: violent exploration and chemistry. The record is simply (“simply”) the result of two virtuoso musicians getting together in a room to make insanely brutal, brutally insane music where the only real aim is being both insane and brutal.

Release date: May 31, 2019. Label: Silent Pendulum Records.
The band’s unique makeup is likely both a result of and informer to their music. The sound comes only from Ryan Schutte’s nine-string baritone guitar and David Stickney’s two drum kits, which are kept at a 90-degree angle for easy and rapid kit changing. (Side note: how great a name is “Stickney” for a dummer?) Schutte likely started playing the baritone guitar because of its ability to deliver rubbery djent riffs as well as it does dissonant, slip-sliding noise lines, while Stickney’s kits have different tonal ranges, allowing him to follow (or lead) his bandmate into whatever range is appropriate at the time.

While on the leading/following subject, the record almost sounds improvised and live, despite being crazily tight and dense. There are plenty of times when one musician repeats a motif, only for the other guy to do a dramatic shift, which subsequently leads to the other following suit. They might be in full math/grind mode, but Stickney will shift to a half-time groove, only for Schutte to follow with low-end lurches that approach slam grooves. Such directional changes also happen in the opposite direction.

The feeling of it all being an experiment, an exploration, a “session,” or whatever is only furthered by song titles like “x-_-x-_.+._-” and “x..^..x-x..^..x-x..^..x-x..^..x-.” It’s clear that Pound is quite focused on maximizing the calculated oddball nature of their music. It’s even tough to tell if these were meticulously crafted songs or just collections of various ideas that fit together most conveniently. There’s no shame in that; it’s pretty much the songwriting approach of every “riff salad” metal band anyway.

And about that density… there are about 17,832 different slippery widdles and squiddles, vacuum cleaner riffs, extremely tight snare rolls, brutal but punchy grooves, blast beats, playfully murderous half-hooks, ear-splitting noise lines, and leveling drum patterns stuffed into these 33 minutes. Sometimes Schutte and Stickney seem to be playing in different time signatures, totally messing with your expectation of when they should return to a downbeat, and sometimes they’re driving forward in a unified thud-crash. It’s a combination of grind’s total lack of an attention span, djent’s tendency to constantly bounce around a central point, and knuckle-dragging hardcore’s love of cavemanish groove. Plus, the production is clear enough for details to be heard but hefty enough to not abandon the violence.

Most of all, it’s fun… at least it sounds fun for the band to play. The first few listens are admittedly quite harsh and bordering on impenetrable, and it never quite stops being exhausting. Still, lovers of all things ultimately skronky and truly progressive will find a lot to appreciate and possibly even love. It just takes a little while to get used to all the sudden shifts and countless ways Pound can, well, pound you into dust. What a fitting band name. What a bonkers record.

Posted by Zach Duvall

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

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