Space Blood – ‘Tactical Chunder’ album review

Space Blood Tactical Chunder

Long-time Spectral Nights favourites Space Blood travelled over to the UK from Chicago shortly after recording this album to play a tour and a triumphant set at ArcTanGent – and we think the title may be a well-intentioned nod to their anglophile side and fascination with the more absurd elements of our culture. Released independently in the States and via Lonely Voyage in the UK, it was recorded in Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio by Sanford Parker and manages to capture the crazy elements of their darkly humorous live experience.

Anyone who’s seen, listened to or been accosted with Malort by Space Blood – with Sam Edgin and William Covert going by the alter-egos Malort Face and Young Percussionist respectively – will know they’re quite unlike anything else and the opening ‘Cemetery School’ welcomes you into their weird and wonderful world. Its avant-garde carnival sound is weirdly hypnotic and is dirty but never less than danceable. They make use of distorted bass, loop-making riffs and thunderous drums and it’s almost like a Jack in the Box as you wait for the awry turn to come – and sure enough, it does with haunting synths clashing with high-pitched squeals. Following this is ‘Sex Monk’, a song that starts in quieter fashion – but this doesn’t last long. It soon brings in scattergun drums and ups the tempo as it evolves into something reminiscent of Adebisi Shank.

Next up is ‘NSFW (Nick Sintos for Work)’ is more in your face as looped bass guitar sounds battle for your attention from both speakers. As William’s drums drive the song forward, it’s clear that it’s embracing influences from bands you will have seen at ATG. It even has a surprisingly melodic finish. The brilliantly titled ‘Terminal Radness’ may have more broad appeal but it’s no less challenging or mathy – although, having said that, you could still imagine a crowd singing along to the music as it reaches its climax. Following this is ‘Technoshamanism’ which resembles a Hans Zimmer soundtrack to an intelligent and thought-provoking blockbuster – that is until it takes an absurdist turn and starts to resemble Three Trapped Tigers at their most anthemic. It’s the kind of song you want to punch your hand into the air at the end of.

The final trio of songs are equally diverse; ‘Cash Caballero’ is bursting with clattering drums, samba-beat riffs and odd time signatures and manages to capture the theatrics of the duo’s live show; ‘Scissor Rats’ has a groovier edge although Sam’s bass and the clanking drums seem to be trying their best to deconstruct the song. It then finishes with a galloping sound and all sorts of looped effects. The final song ‘Unintentional Manscaping’ clocks in at six and a half minutes and has a very slow build-up until the drums go completely crazy. There’s a huge solo and then ear-piercingly beefy riffs come to the fore. With cowbell and synths also thrown into the mix, it all builds up to a clattering crescendo of noise to finish.

This is a marvellously messy record – much like the action that inspired its title.

Buy ‘Tactical Chunder’ from the following outlets:

 

 

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