Over the last few years, I’ve written at length about heavy bands transitioning away, slightly, from what’s typically defined as “heavy music” and toward something ostensibly lighter: shoegaze.
Some of my own favorite albums of 2018 — Møl’s Jord; the Armed’s Only Love — don’t even “transition” one way or the other. They simply are that thing, living right there on the blurry line that “separates” shoegaze from the heavy shit.
Those bands know, of course, that there is no distinction. Shoegaze is heavy as fuck. As Jeff Yerger wrote for Stereogum earlier this year in an essay about the loudest bands in the history of music:
For My Bloody Valentine, it isn’t merely about hammering your audience with heavy guitar riffs, it’s about pushing frequencies to the limit and unleashing a dense avalanche of sound. Their notorious set closer, “You Made Me Realize,” concludes with what has been dubbed the “holocaust section,” a cacophony of noise and disorienting visuals that has caused concertgoers to literally shit themselves.
The British label Holy Roar largely traffics in bands that are “heavy as fuck.” Their unparalleled slate of 2018 releases includes Rolo Tomassi’s Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It, Svalbard’s It’s Hard To Have Hope, and the aforementioned Jord, among others. This week, the label will deliver Aurora, the debut LP from the Manchester/Belguim-based band Slow Crush.
Slow Crush play true shoegaze in its heaviest form, the way it’s meant to be, the best way. The band’s name goes a good distance toward describing their sound. There is a slowness to this music; a transcendent, diaphanous beauty. However, quite plainly, it will crush you. It may not have quite so immediate a physical effect as that of MBV’s “holocaust section” as described above by Yerger, but it is music that is meant to be played at 10 and thusly absorbed. Mixed by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Bosse-De-Nage), Aurora is one of the best shoegaze debuts I’ve heard in a good long time. It’s one of the best shoegaze albums I’ve heard in a good long time. It’s fucking phenomenal, evidently, and I’m happy to have it premiering here on Stereogum today, in advance of its official release. Listen.
Aurora is out 9/28 via Holy Roar. Pre-order it here.