Not everyone is born into rosy family lives. As my life has gone on, I’ve gained more and more appreciation for the family life I have had as I have seen other people deal with theirs. Although a cliche, it’s true that you can pick your friends but cannot pick your family, and no matter how one feels about the people who should be closest to them, it’s a tie you just cannot shake.
The role of one’s family members in a person’s life is a center point of the new EP from Agoraphobic Nosebleed “Arc,” the first of a series of four releases from the band centering on the members of the band and their influences. This one of Kat Katz’s release, and on these three songs, she reveals much about her struggle with her mother’s schizophrenia and her role of taking care of her during her final days of life. That’s pretty heavy subject matter even for a band as smothering as this because it strikes right to the core and is a human a struggle as one is going to find. The added layer of dealing with someone suffering from a mental illness hits home for me as I have had a long struggle with anxiety and had a particularly bad time over the holidays. These songs make me think about the stress I likely put on those around me and am thankful that I am surrounded by people who understand this and support me. Not sure that was ANb’s intent, but that’s something that struck me when combing through these songs.
As noted, this is all Katz here lyrically and vocally. The former Salome vocalist finds herself once again emerged in deep, muddy sludge, three songs that are heavy and ugly. The surrounding is ideal for the subject matter and Katz’s impassioned howls, and she sounds deadly and on point throughout this collection. The band is rounded out by vocalist Richard Johnson (also of Drugs of Faith), guitarist/noisemaker Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer), bassist John Jarvis (also Pig Destroyer) and noise wrangler/vocalist Jay Randall. These three songs are longer than a usual ANb jam, but that allows the band to branch out to sink into these muddy waters and bring Katz’s vision into fuller reality.
“Not a Daughter” gets this going, a title from which you can read a lot. The sludgy swagger hits early, with Kat wasting no time to get her emotions out on display, wailing, “Stop hurting me! Why are you doing this to me?” The track is crunchy and thrashing for the most part, with some thick bass and a swarm of noise rising. As the track and the experience rolls on, Katz howls a very sobering and on-the dot line, “Your mind, a prison,” as the band brings this to a muddy, clobbering end. “Deathbed” follows, flowing over 8:32 and beginning with some catastrophic doom riffs. There are deadly growls that gurgle beneath the din, and the track begins to smother, with Katz pleading, “Forgive me!” with a desperation that is tangible. The track has a nice bit of bluesy smoke that enters the fray, with the track buzzing, and Katz unleashing her soul.
Closer “Gnaw” is the longest track here at 11:24, and it opens with slithering riffs and a clip about schizophrenia. The track hits a slow chug, with Katz unleashing fiery screams, and the band playing swaggering runs again. The track eventually hits deeper pockets of mud, as one might expect, as the guitars chew and churn whatever is in its way. Noise rings out and stings, while vicious screams emerge, more mashing reaches the surface, and shrieks meet with deep growls as the song spirals to it soul-shaming end. If you need a breath, like I did, take it.
All hails to this band not only for putting out a killer EP of material that will churn your insides, but also for Katz putting herself out there like this. The topics she tackles are not easy ones at all, and to express her sadness, frustration, and confusion the way she does surely had to be cathartic for her but also can be healing for her audience. This is a smashing collection, and to think, there are three more of these things to come!
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/AgoraphobicNosebleed
To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/