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01. If You're Not Battling You're Dead
02. Holy Silent Ruin
03. Always at the Border
05. Permanent Opium War
Reviewed by: Nick
// Published: 7/16/2009
Okay, so take your favorite noise rock/punk band (The Jesus Lizard, Unsane, or The Melvins will do). Got it in mind Now strip off any bells and whistles, leaving crunchy, monolithic riffs. And finally, add in some incredibly scathing female screams. The result is Robotic Empire's latest pick-up, the New Zealand trio by the name of Dial.
Originally recorded as a demo, this pack of five songs excels on the grounds of simplicity. Yes, there are a lot of cool rhythms strewn throughout the EP, and yes, it definitely has a unique feel to it. But these tracks succeed more on how all of this is presented, rather than the specific songwriting tricks. "If You're Not Battling You're Dead" immediately sets the tone, with gritty bass and chunky guitars locking into an off-time, one-note groove. "Always at the Border" isn't a far cry from some of Breather Resist's less frantic material, although with the harsh vocals of Natalia Williams, the result is nearly twice as vicious. And then there's "Sweating," which sports the disc's biggest groove, and the plodding, sludgy closer, "Permanent Opium War," which uses a crawling pace as a means to drive home the abrasive heaviness one last time. These are heavy jams, indeed.
I just wish there was more to be enjoyed. Sure, it's just an EP, but there's no doubt in my mind that this material would make an excellent foundation for a full-length -- except maybe a little more songwriting variation could be worked into the mix. Sure, the simplicity and raw approach is what makes this disc so jarringly enjoyable, but what if some of these songs were fleshed out with some more complementary guitar work to add an epic feel to these already punishing tracks That, my friends, would stay in my listening rotation for years.
Dial's demo-turned-debut-EP is an excellent start. It's heavy, pissed off, and noisy in some of the best ways possible. But there is definitely some untapped potential buried in this New Zealand trio that has me giddy just thinking about it. For now, however, these songs will have to tide us over while we all wait for the potential greatness that only a Dial full-length could unleash.
Bottom Line: Dial is Unsane heavier, The Jesus Lizard with less guitar lines and more riffs, and the Melvins more pissed off all rolled into one. Few new bands have this much potential, so I want more. A lot more.
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