When it comes to making a rock song that transcends generational barriers between one subgenre and another, there’s no right way to hit the mark – but there are plenty of wrong ways. Down the Lees avoid pretty much all of them in “Antiseptic Heart,” their meteoric new music video and single, but not without giving us a lesson or two in what constitutes a modern rock rhythm. Right from the get-go in “Antiseptic Heart,” the band is taking it slow; there’s no rushing in their attack, but the urgency in their play is made obvious to the listener in the tone of the harmonies that they’re conjuring up together. As the song trudges on through the molasses-like beats with a fervency that is underscored by the volume of the instruments, we’re given three options – one, we can focus on the grind of the gears as the players near the chorus; two, we can divide our attention between the melodic faceting at the front of the mix and the black and white crunch of the back; or three, we can sit back and take all of this assault at full force and anticipate whatever machismo awaits us around the next bend in the song. My advice? Try and go with option three if you can.
There’s a lot for us to take in during the extended jam that “Antiseptic Heart” becomes, but there’s scarcely a moment where we feel as though the guitars are going to give-way to the weight of the drums. The percussion pounds away at the bassline as if to kill it beyond revival, and still the brown noise at the bottom of the mix keeps seeping into the vocal track, like a poison coursing through someone’s bloodstream. We’re succumbing to the will of Down the Lees by the time we reach the midway point in the track, and although it would be prudent to try and save ourselves from the oncoming train of tones and textures plowing over everything in sight, it is next to impossible (especially for rock, metal and post-noise rock fans). Down the Lees pack just too strong a wind, too powerful a hurricane, for anyone to escape their clutches in this song.
“Antiseptic Heart” ends in an angry scream of feedback, and as it fades into the darkness, the guttural tone of the noise becomes almost melodic in its final stand. I wasn’t sure what I was going to hear in this single, considering that I hadn’t heard a whole lot of Down the Lees before now, but I can confirm that all of the buzz surrounding its release is justified. Regardless of how many times this song is played, it retains a rebellious, chest-pounding passion that is often reserved for live performances exclusively. I would love to see this act on stage sometime in the near future, because if even a tenth of the energy that they bring with them to the studio here were to carry over to a crowded concert hall, their show would be one that no rocker would want to miss out on.
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