Have you ever been hit by a freight train? If you have, congratulations on surviving. If you haven’t, Loma Prieta can give you a taste of what exactly that feels like. This San Francisco band has returned, following up their massive 2012 album, I.V. with Self Portrait. Between the massive walls of noise, Loma Prieta is back with a more refined sound and a thicker soundscape to rock your mind.
Going into this album is like being thrown into a pit, full of angry, hungry wolves, ready to tear your flesh apart. Some freight train collision, huh? The opening track, “Love” begins this monster album on a mild note, beginning with arpeggiated (albeit, distorted) guitar before screaming vocals kick in, barreling drums soon following. This is about as soft as it gets on this album. “Black Square” follows up “Love”, beginning with thundering drums a feedback buildup to more angry screams. The chorus brings us to the point of no return on the album - the distorted powerchords under extreme vocals are upon us. The album continues to march forward, each track being another punch in the face. The album, in fact, gets even crazier as it continues. “Merciless” is probably one of the most mind-bogglingly epic tracks on the album, beginning with what could be passed as a punk version of the intro to Deftones’ “Change (In The House Of Flies)”, this song embodies what hardcore punk mixed with noise rock is: confusion and sonic brutality. “Rings” continues the insanity, with pounding kick drums and giant distorted guitars knocking you out with every hit.
The concluding track of the album, in contrast, ends it on a lighter note. “Satellite” begins as the cleanest track on the album. It does eventually kick into another heavy-hitting punk rock banger as the choruses pick up, but it still shows a progression in the band’s sound, exhibited elsewhere in the album, too: a “happier” vibe. The band attempts to stray away from a purely negative sound at several moments on the album. This includes “Never Remember” (which could be passed for a really heavy The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die song) and “More Perfect”, two tracks that are uncharacteristically happy for Loma Prieta.
And so, as lightly it began, a crescendo of noise lifts you out of the sonic experience of Self Portrait. Barreling towards a happier sound, Loma Prieta has developed a fuller sound, maintaining the heaviness of previous efforts all the while mixing in lighter moments to lead the listener to a false sense of security, before bombarded by a massive wall of noise. They have mastered the art of noise (that is, feedback) and built it into powerful, hard-hitting tracks, keeping every track fresh and new. Congratulations, you have survived a direct collision from a freight train.
Favorite Tracks: Merciless, Love, Satellite
Least Favorite Track: Never Remember