Label: Black Bow Records
Identity Shapes may only be 22 minutes long, but the feelings of filth and dirt it inspires last long after the record has finished playing. The debut EP from Deadwound is a mix of sludge and belligerent Cursed-esque hardcore, delivered in an almost painfully physical way. The largely mid-tempo stomp of the band is weighty and powerful, with moments of faster post-Converge violence interspersed to ensure that the record is never one-dimensional, even if it does deal solely in different shades of black.
That overarching darkness can be difficult to cut through at first. On initial listens, the murkiness and bleak nature of the music makes it difficult to discern the different elements at play (and it’s worth noting this is not down to the production, which is strong and relatively clear, but simply due to the atmosphere of the songs themselves). The sludge aspects of Deadwound are very much at the front of their sound, dragging the listener down in to a pool of negativity. Whilst further listens never dispel that negative atmosphere – a plus, as it’s one of the strongest aspects of Identity Shapes – they do reveal that there’s more to the band that it first seems. The Entombed and Converge influences become more apparent, especially on tracks like ‘Cruel Road’ which breaks up its mid-paced rampage with short guitar turns that recall Kurt Ballou’s work, or the subtle sense of groove throughout. The closing moments of final track ‘Babylon’ are absolutely great too, adding in some strong guitar leads to provide a real sense of catharsis and closure.
Really though, Identity Shapes is a record that is all about negativity, creating a feeling like you’re slowly drowning in darkness. It is oppressive and unwelcoming, practically demanding an emotional response. There are some rough edges to it, with a few of the transitions and shifts in tempo not being quite as smooth as they ideally would be, and the emotional tone of it means that it’s a difficult record to get in to if you’re not in the right mind-set. But if you’re after a relatively short burst of all-encompassing rage and nihilism after a bad day at the office, then you could do far worse; it’s not pretty or easy to get in to, but Identity Shapes is a record that’s worth spending time with. Great artwork too.
Identity Shapes is set for release on 17th February 2017; follow Black Bow Records on Facebook for further details as they are confirmed.