sonance like ghostsThe monster is quiet. It squats brooding in the darkest corner of the room, the chain around its neck draped down a scaly back, glowing green eyes fixed on its keepers. They themselves are tired enough to make mistakes, and as the bowl of food is placed on the ground the distraction of chit-chat sees an arm extend beyond the yellow line painted across the cold concrete floor. A fatal mistake, signaled by the crunching of bones and tearing of flesh.

The alarm is pushed and a pulse is fired into the monster, subduing it, for it can’t be killed. Reeling back the world starts to spin and a numbness takes over – vision blurred it makes out the form of the response team as they drag it over to a table and strap it down with steel belts. Speech slurred the beast makes its protest, trying in vain to shake itself free from the restraints until a wave of drowsiness takes over.

The muffled voices of its captors play in its ears but it can’t make out the detail of the abuse and pointless threats. Together they occupy the space, each side wanting control, neither wanting to be there. It’s a battle of evil versus evil, and no one wins.

Bristol (England) band Sonance released their debut late last year during the period that saw a few great sludge/doom/drone/post-rock/post-metal records appear. Their brand is particularly noisy, harsh, discordant and unsettling, where even the quieter moments are filled with underlying tension and apprehension. The dynamics are pronounced, the changes in volume sudden rather than gradual and make listening with headphones in anything but silence a little difficult. This is made for a good stereo in a vibration-free room. And understanding neighbours.

There is no formula to the time taken to leap between loud and soft. In the second of the two 20+ minute songs we are held in suspense with tense drone for ages before the release, whereas the first track has much more action. They form a great contrast to each other that builds on the contrast within each song.

To describe this record simply as intense fails to capture its sheer presence and impact and hyperbole would do little to convey that any better, so just go and have a listen and decide. Not quite at the top of the tree, it is certainly a lofty jumping-off point for this new band.

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