Before we go too far in to this review, just take a few moments to look at that artwork; and I mean, really look at it, and study it in some detail. There’s so much going on, so much pain and disgust, and it’s bound to produce an almost physical reaction. It makes perfect sense that it’s the cover for an album like Asexual Anger, then. The latest album from Love Sex Machine is a repulsive, violent, deeply uncomfortable listen. It’s also quite moving, with its bleak, heavy sound and atmosphere resulting in an album that is remarkably cathartic and emotionally challenging.
The basic elements of the sound of Asexual Anger will be familiar to anyone who listens to sludge on a regular basis – heavily down-tuned guitars, crushing drumming, and an over-riding sense of dread and depravity. Topped off with some truly ferocious vocals, and a bruising, almost hardcore sense of imminent violence, it makes for a record that, whilst not massively original, is nonetheless executed extremely well; an example of success by taking base elements and mastering them, rather than by reinventing the genre. Tracks like “Black Mountain” and “Atrocity” move along at a tempo not far removed from a crawl, but they never seem to drag. Such is the intensity of Love Sex Machine’s performance that the songs block out all else around you, suffocating the listener with their pitch-black malevolence. Taken as a whole, it can sometimes be a bit too much for a single sitting, but when the mood strikes, Asexual Anger is sure to put your head and heart through a bruising journey.
What’s worth highlighting here is that, even if I sometimes can’t make it all the way through Asexual Anger without having to put something else on – something less emotionally intense and challenging – I find myself wanting to spend time with the album. For Love Sex Machine to have created an album that is simultaneously so addictive and abrasive is quite an achievement. It’s not as if any violence or aggression has been sacrificed, either, and it’s perhaps that which keeps me coming back to Asexual Anger – there is an honesty here, and a feeling that however cathartic and challenging these songs might be to listen to, to play them is far, far more difficult.
As I’ve hopefully made clear, Asexual Anger is a record that asks a lot of the listener; but, any efforts are more than repaid. It’s rare to hear sludge that is so belligerent and cathartic, so ugly and appealing all at once. It’s not the kind of album to have on in the background and appreciate the riffs from time to time; it’s a full-on, attention-demanding assault upon the senses and emotions. When you’ve had a bad day/week/month/year, this is exactly the kind of album you need to hear.