Durham noise-mongers Iced Out return for another round of sludgy hardcore and their first new material since last March’s split with Razoreater. This is their new 7” EP ‘Jukai’, released through Church of Fuck and Moshtache Records and it marks a noticeable shift in the band’s sound.
The key elements of Iced Out’s special blend of crusty hardcore are still here but what you’ll notice from the very beginning of ‘Life Through a Mask’ is that Iced Out have significantly slowed down the pace of their music which brings to mind Cancer Bats’ ‘Dead Set on Living’. The buzzsaw, HM-2 guitar tone is still there and vocalist Chippy is still belching his way over the band’s music, but the slower pace brings an almost sludge metal vibe to the band’s sound which is akin to bands like Gurt and label mates Trudger.
‘Jukai’ sticks with its focus on slower tempos through each of the EP’s four songs and it makes it more apparent as to what is so brilliant about the band’s music. You can’t help but focus in on guitarist Adam Kennedy’s simple yet bruising riffs. It was apparent Kennedy was a talented guitarist on the band’s previous releases, but when the music is laid out so bare you can really appreciate just how monolithic the guitarist can sound. Backed with the thunderous bass work of Matthew Marko and the calculated yet punishing drumming of Andrew Hartley, Iced Out have never sounded so big.
An EP highlight comes in the form of closer ‘Some Kind of Plague’ which trudges along with a huge, doom-like stomp. Just as you feel like the song is winding down, Kennedy’s abrasive guitar work explodes back into action with a riff that will likely snap your neck if given enough time. It’s wonderful to hear how something as simple as changing the tempo can create such devastating moments like these.
Special mention also has to given to the consistent production work of Joe No Studio who is becoming a Church of Fuck mainstay. The man channels GodCity Studio and Kurt Ballou’s production style which gives the raucous noise enough room to breathe. The mix allows you focus in on every layer of the song’s structure but manages to keep the rawness of the band’s Entombed-like atmosphere intact. Put simply, Iced Out have never sounded this good.
Once again Iced Out manage to bottle pure fury and put it on record. The shift in atmosphere that is brought about by the slower-paced songs suits the oppressive nature of the band’s music perfectly and creates some absolutely crushing anthems of despair. Iced Out have proven that there’s more to this band than straight-forward hardcore and ‘Jukai’ marks a huge evolution for them. If you get a chance to see the band perform this material in a live environment then make sure to wear a neck brace because with riffs this big you might do yourself some serious damage.