Downard - Permanent Damage | Album Review

Those loyal to the contemporary Bristolian DIY scene may know the name of Downard well. In fact, those previously acquainted with the act will likely acknowledge their namesake with a secret, knowing grin. For those new to their name, Downard are a noise-rock two piece who’s members are in a long term relationship. So a bit like The White Stripes except for being nowhere near as tepid, a lot more exciting and completely nothing like them.

Self-released digitally April 28th prior to being released physically as soon as Covid-19 relents, their awaited long play debut Permanent Damage is a gripping, abrasively raw and mentally engaging barrage on the ears that showcases why this band are held with such regard in their home circles.

Unlike a lot of artists who pursue the sounds of reverberating DIY noise that boils one’s spinal fluid, Permanent Damage is a record that provides atmospheric ambience, aura’s that give the tooth-grinding distortion levity. Such a sentiment becomes forefront almost immediately with opener ‘Years’ and preceding tracks ‘Hell Roundabout’ and ‘Scrappage Is Back’. Analogue and ironised bass riffs bounce dangerously through the throes of warped time signatures whilst the reverberating effect laden vocals wail from the distant effect pedals they where born from. Yet, there’s considerate – sometimes melancholic – reservation hanging in the barrage of trapezius ruining distortion, elements that harken back to the work of the historic Melvins and current contemporaries such as Cassels and Twisted Ankle. Essentially, they sound like a lovely mash up of JOHN, Raketkanon and Shellac - a massive amalgamation of wonderfully weird qualities.

Yet, despite the duo’s penchant for experimenting in fine art of aura, Permanent Damage is a record that fully demands physical motion. One simply can not help but be snared by the pulverising, hammer-like riffs and slam drums of the noise-punk rush of ‘Chicken Shit Lodge’ and ‘Frog Wellington’, with the later track featuring a prolonged stoner doom introduction that showcases the group’s love for all that’s low and slow.

Throughout this idiosyncratic swirling noise of muffled barks and robust riffs, subtle elements of other genres’s glisten within the metallic swarm of noise. The knee-buckling warehouse bounce of ‘Bastards Of Disaster’ sounds like Heavy Lungs if they discovered an enjoyment for Lightening Bolt, the analogue motorik punk of ‘New Wig Town’ sounds like something Idles would produce if they where trapped within a combusting steel mill and the instrumental brooding of ‘Hartcliffe Save Point’ is a great example of ominous industrial ambience. The brilliant, sombre racket of closer ‘All The Way Down The River’ also see’s the duo even tentatively approach the brooding power of post-punk to thrilling effect. Permanent Damage brilliantly showcases Downard’s inventive home-cooked sound in a way that mirrors the compressing intensity of their live shows.

Related: Romance, Noise And Living In A Survival Horror - An Interview With Downard

In all, this is both certainly the release long time fans of Downard have been awaiting and one that brilliantly showcases their aptitude for innovative noise to newcomers. With it’s analogue, unrefined intimacy and it’s habit of snaring the listener prior to forcing it’s home-cooked sound upon them, Permanent Damage is essentially like experiencing one of their thrilling live shows – expect in a way that’s constantly accessible and convenient. Given that the prospect of live music may be some time off, this record is an essential listen for all those who love their musical endeavours authentic, dense and innovatively deafening.

Score: 8/10

Permanent Damage is released digitally April 26th. It will be available to purchase here.


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