Album Review: Meat Wave - 'The Incessant'

15 February 2017 | 4:33 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

Loud, raw, emotional, & also pretty average.

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Okay, first off, Meat Wave may just be one of the most unintentionally hilarious band names in the history of punk rock music. It just sounds like the title of a gay porno movie or at least, a low budget porn parody of a legitimate movie. As you can gather, I’m basically a fucking child at heart and a name like that just gives me the chuckles every time I say it aloud to myself.

"Meat Wave". Fuck me, what a name!

Anywho, now that we have established just how immature I am, let us get on with the show.

The noisy Chicago trio that is Meat Wave – guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter (guitar, vocals), bassist Joe Gac and drummer Ryan Wizniak – have a chaotic new album out this month called ‘The Incessant’. And it isn’t half bad. It’s definitely not revolutionary (though, music such as this often doesn't need to be) nor is it "Holy fucking shit guys did you hear this thing? You NEED to hear this album!" good, but it's a solid record all up. Just keep your expectations mellowed and middle-grounded when going into this one is what I'm saying here.

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Recorded with the legendary, enigmatic engineering mad man that is Steve Albini, this album is 12 songs of noisy, sonically cutting bursts of garage-punk. This album sounds and feels like you're sitting right there in the control room with Albini, looking past the monitors, mixing desk and the studio glass, watching these three guys pour out their hearts into the microphones that are recording this fucked up musical therapy session. There is no bullshit here - what you see and hear is exactly what you get; loud, distorted, dissonant and cathartic punk rock.

[caption id="attachment_1090394" align="alignnone" width="760"]Meat Wave - Credit Andrew Morrison Meat Wave, a really cheery bunch. PC: Andrew Morrison.[/caption]

These 12 songs range from dark, mid-tempo musings filled with plenty of dynamic range to forceful, dissonant buzz-saw riffs and loud drum crashes, all undercutting Sutter's yelling vocals of his self-deprecating, cathartic lyrics. Speaking of the band's frontman, let's get into what helped birthed this record from his mind.

Sutter, 24, had a long-term relationship that began way back in his early teens come to a bitter end recently, and that experience is what drives this record. The escapist theme of heartbreak and inward hate becomes most apparent on songs like 'Bad Man', the surprisingly restrained title track, the cacophonous rapture of ‘Killing The Incessant’ and the rather upbeat, catchy lead single, ‘Run You Out’. Now, on that last track, Sutter said that the single is specifically about "exiting a situation in the worst, most destructive way possible", which sums up this record nicely – destructive.

Well... most of it, anyway.

See, ‘The Incessant’ is not actually its namesake – continuing through without pause or interruption - as it pulls itself up ay many times for some real pause and introspection. Of course, a slower, melancholic tune like the eerie 'Birdland' is needed to help diversify the album somewhat and ensure that it isn't just 'g0-go-go' the whole damn time. The same goes for ‘No Light’, yet unlike 'Birdland' and the album's title track, it actually nails the moodier timbre right, doesn't underwhelm, and keeps you invested right until the very end. Which those other two songs do not deliver, sadly.

So yes, portions of this album do feel rather fillerish.

Also, I cannot help but feel that Meat Wave needs to really focus on their shorter songs. They are at their absolute mightiest and most effective when their songs fall well under the two and a half minute mark, and not when they drag them out to the four-minute point (see: the boring and forgettable 'Glass Teeth'.) Save for 'No Light' and Killing The Incessant', look at the short and sweet killer 'At The Lake', the fast and vicious 'Mask' or the album's short and snappy opening ragers - 'To Be Swayed' and 'Tomosaki' - to see how the band get in and out within three minutes, with plenty of time left on the clock.

Now, the argument that some may take aim against me is that my attention span just isn't fucking long enough. Well, buckeroo, my counter to that is that one of my favourite songs from 2016 was Avenged Sevenfold's 'Exist' - a truly lengthy, epic sixteen-minute experience! So no, having longer than average songs or not, they still need to be good, engaging songs, and Meat Wave don't have a perfect hit ratio in that regard.

Meat Wave's new album is a loud and distorted record that is at its very best when brevity becomes the name of their game. But 'The Incessant' is a held back by the longer, more inconsistent songs of its track listing. So, keep it short and sweet next time, guys.

Finally, as per the lyrical content here and the emotional genesis behind this album, I am going to leave us now with a quote from Steve Martin: "Relationships end, but they don't end your life. But people do often spending more time finding out about failed relationships than finding successful ones."

1. To Be Swayed

2. Tomosaki

3. Run You Out

4. Leopard Print Jet Ski

5. Bad Man

6. No Light

7. Glass Teeth

8. The Incessant

9. At The Lake

10. Mask

11. Birdland

12. Killing The Incessant

‘The Incessant’ is out February 17th via SideOneDummy & Cooking Vinyl Australia. Man, that is one lazy album cover! Also, if a song like 'Leopard Print Jet Ski' was meant to be in some way humorous, then the band has failed harder than Unkle Adams has at being a successful rapper.