Given the fact that it seems a better description of an ethos than a particular sonic quality, using the intentionally ill-defined "avant-garde metal" as a jumping-off point is a bit of a fraught exercise. Today's band in question is a wholly unique beast, and so any preemptive attempts at categorization must immediately be defenestrated. A more appropriate starting point, then, might be Bornwithhair's previous work. This is their third(!) album in, like, less than a year, so the intense maturation has been pretty darn compressed in regards to time frame.
Their debut Radical Moon was marked by a fresh breath of weirdness, particularly in the compositional department, while sophomore effort Smoleńska upped the stakes, leaning into angular riffage and angry distortion on one hand, and starkly gentle ambiance on the other. Both provided a wildly tumultuous approach to experimentation. Both were well-received, with the latter getting some quite impressive press. Both represented a mad-cap cacophony of ideas, and, as such, made for pretty damn intriguing listening experiences. The only way to go was up, and follow-up Someplace to Haunt is, dare I say, this duo's most enjoyable and most cohesive work yet. Needless to say, we're pleased and honored to premiere Someplace to Haunt here in full. Throw on a pair of headphones and fire it up. As always, we'll meet you on the other side.
Someplace to Haunt borrows from the music that defined the respective youths of the artists, but yet nothing feels derivative. Here, Bornwithhair seem to have found a certain groove when it comes to the implementation of distinct sonic and aesthetic elements. They lean significantly more into the (clears throat) noise rock/art rock/gothic rock/post-rock/psych rock arenas, lending the entire affair a notably spacious and expansive quality. The guitar has, for the most part, lost its bite, with a lush and languid legato taking its place. Their prior work placed you straight in the thick of the fray; Someplace to Haunt provides a little distance from the action. There's room for reflection, and less room for urgent and immediate response. As a listening experience, this album recalls the progressive and wonky worlds of Gentle Giant, albeit significantly more somber and smooth across the breadth. There's a tangible sense of drama throughout, which serves as a sort of common glue.
In terms of favorite tracks, there are a couple of inevitable standouts--although I hardly can recommend listening to them in isolation. "Reprise of What is Not" has a particularly forthright chorus, which, besides being wonderful in its simplicity, provides a little sing-song energy to the front half of the album. Further on, "Riot of Ghosts" offers a free-fall with a triumphant guitar tone and a spooky vocal quality stealing the show. Jean Ferriage states that "sonically, our music is often the sound of worlds colliding," and this track represents that notion quite well indeed. And, lastly, "Versions of Myself" is a rousingly dynamic number, capturing Bornwithhair's many distinct sides in a concise and energetic fashion. There's a lovely happy-go-lucky bounce at play, but also a ethereal melancholy. Well played--both thematically and instrumentally, of course. But, to reiterate: this is a album meant for listening to in full album form. It is an experience entirely worth your while. I promise.
In short? I mean, goddamn. Someplace to Haunt is simply a killer album, a potent encapsulation of Bornwithhair's greatest strengths. I feel like their brief-yet-prolific career has been pointing in the direction of an album like this, and they delivered in spades. Someplace to Haunt is clearly retrospective, building upon a wide variety of influences, but it feels remarkably fresh and forward-thinking. That alone is a reason for celebration.
I've blathered enough. If you haven't already, hit play above and give Bornwithhair some love.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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