Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
Tyranny Album Review
Released September 23, 2014
Genre: Noise Rock, Experimental Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Noise Pop, Dance Punk, Electronic Rock, Synth Rock, Garage Rock, Punk Rock
Stuck between a mechanical, industrial nightmare and the caress of a leather glove, Julian Casablancas’ Tyranny is truly compressive record that matches the indulgence of that first clause. And distortion is the recurring sentiment throughout in terms of thematics and indiscernible lyrics. Every track is a dense retention of static and noise though the melodies sit close enough to the surface to provide alleviation from the oppressive crunch.
Not to say that I disliked the erratic structure of Tyranny, in fact I loved the move away from the lacklustre rock-pop direction Casablancas took his initial solo record and the previous two Strokes releases. Tyranny has a toe in hardcore, dance-punk, psychedelica and even taking from African influence encased in squealing guitars on ‘Father Electricity’.
For many, Tyranny will be an alienating hour and a bit of music. Between the deafening barrage of “M.utally A.ssured D.estruction” and the dystopian garage-rock of “Business Dog” there is nary a upbeat riff and bouncy bassline in sight, just unrelenting compression throughout. Because Tyranny is a dark record, the feeling of knotted up guilt and frustration embeds it in Julian’s voice, yelling harder than he ever has previously through megaphonic modulation, his convictions, though hard to decipher, seep into the mix like a Terminator through prison bars.
Now, if you’ve settled in to the crushing production and feeling of an impending demise so far that you’ve got past the first couple of tracks, get comfortable. Most of these tracks push the five minute mark and while it may first seem that the wall of noise doesn’t justify such drawn out tracks, the dynamic intricacies do reveal themselves over time. For the most part, Casablancs does a spectacular job navigating song structures through back alleys not frequented and banging sharp U-turns; take ‘Crunch Punch’ for a spin or the paranoia that creeps around the corners of ‘Nintendo Blood’
Broad in it’s ambition and entirely claustrophobic, this offering from J.Casablancas and the Voidz isn’t for the faint hearted nor the unsuspecting Strokes fan. Ranging for lurching spats of rage in the last chorus of ‘Where No Eagles Fly’ to the anarchic majesty of the 10 minute sprawl ‘Human Sadness’, there’s something for everyone and equally a lot for none.
While Tyranny will probably cultivate a divisive reception, for me, it’s finally plugged my craving for an artist to blend volatile punk with the Streets of Rage 2 soundtrack. At it’s worst Tyranny is overly indulgent, asphyxiating and hard to digest and at its best, wonderfully unstable.
FAV TRACKS: CRUNCH PUNCH / BUSINESS DOG / WHERE NO EAGLES FLY / FATHER ELECTRICITY
LEAST FAV TRACKS: XEROX / OFF TO WAR