Charnel Ground

This one almost doesn’t need a review based on the lineup alone. A meeting of the minds of Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine), James McNew (Yo La Tengo, Dump) and Kid Millions (Oneida, Man Forever) exploring the boundaries of experimental instrumental shred just seems like a good idea. Hell, if those were names drawn out of a hat and the musicians were tossed in a room even without intent and direction, you know they’d come up with something good. As such, they did enter Charnel Ground with a purpose and to that end they’ve succeeded. Their eponymous LP snares some real moments of powder keg psych, but the record is far from a one-note slash and burn. As much as they go for raw shred, they also wrangle nuance into the equation. Their ability to balance the impulses speaks to the players’ collective pedigrees.

“The High Price” tears a few new holes in the ozone, battling Brokaw’s scorched riffs, tainted and tortured by feedback, with Millions’ rambunctious punishment of drum heads. It’s a premium petrol burn lit on sacred ground and building to a nimbus sized plume of ash, but the band is quick to suck the oxygen out of that rager. They stop for what seems like a nice Tex-Mex lunch on “Plaa De Tica” before flexing Brokaw and McNew’s strengths of restraint and riff sculpture on “Skeleton Coast” and the title track closer, which stretches out for 16+ minutes of slow build and subtle detail. If you’ve been missing out on the instrumental guitar boom of the aughts, where emotions were exorcised among the strings and post-rock flipped through the stacks of psych, jazz and drone, then Charnel Ground will rush in like a breath of sweet air.


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