Dark Habits are responsible for an unreasonable avalanche of unnerving audio at every interval on Cave Paintings.
There are few moments of respite on this EP, as the listener is stood before an oncoming train, which is going very fast and carrying an extraordinarily heavy load.
Despite being so fast, heavy and unrelenting, the train does not come off the rails, with every square inch of it destined to mow you down.
Although there are some very raw elements in this release, it is produced to a high degree with some very interesting and experimental techniques employed, particularly in ‘self-exorcism’; which is replete with grim, gruelling guitar that envelopes strained vocals under a grinding, glitching, electronic static.
The band uses the power of the sounds they employ to take the tracks into dark avenues.
Overall, it is an extremely competent, bold, well-observed, well-considered, experimental release, which takes tropes of its genre to their logical conclusion, conveying in places a dark ominousness that is seldom so subtly presented.
Dark Habits do some things predictably, with sequences that give head-bangers something to head-bang about.
In other sequences, notes, vocals or samples subvert expectations and contribute to the overall feelings of uneasiness that the EP can deliver.
In the closing track, ‘Pity’, this is especially notable, the easiest or most natural note is not always the one chosen to follow the last – whilst the vocal sample underneath makes my trembling fingers search for something lighter to listen to afterwards, like The Lumineers or something.
The vocals are – perhaps deliberately – not very high in the mix for opener ‘Black Tabs’, but they are more prominent later on the EP.
If this is deliberate, then it does a good job of blending the vocals into the overall musical experience, highlighting how integral vocals are to the medium.
‘Porcelain Dreams’ makes interesting and novel use of guitar feedback, using it to the advantage of the overall sound.
Much like when they use animal gelatine and rennet in products besides meat, no part of the beast that is Dark Habits is wasted.
Nothing is taken to excess, overcooked or done for the sake of it.
Each track washes into the next, carrying forwards the relentlessness of the release.
It contains some of the heaviest songs I’ve heard in years, so it is unlikely to be to everyone’s tastes, that being said, it is hard to pick any holes in it musically.
It will cause as many nightmares as it does sore necks; plenty.
One of the most interesting aspects of this release is that the idea of the band has only been kicking around since January, they were officially conceived in March and this album was released in April.
It helps when one of your members runs a fully functional recording suite, but still; damn.
Suffice it to say, Dark Habits are a particularly productive outfit with an excellent grasp of their medium, I expect them to ruining more of my nights sleep in the not too distant future.
Words: Paul Aitken