The first release by any band, that first proclamation of musical intent, the line in the sand, is crucial. It captures the essence of the band at the time of its recording, and sets a baseline for direction of their future works. It’s important that this foundation be solid. For Brighton based noise/sludge unit Kalloused, the strength of first release Damn You Believer is unquestionable.
Broken down into six parts, the album pits venomous, cathartic rage against considered tension building. ‘Pt. 1’s brooding, wearied guitar intro excels at the latter, bolstered by breathy whispers, before a tom-heavy drum groove and tolling bass notes increase the pressure. The restlessness and unease is born of the deliberate, predatory slowness, and when the ‘main’ riff finally erupts with massive, jarring chords and wretched screeches it’s a welcome, oxymoronic relief.
‘Pt. 2’ is far more immediate, an ascending three-movement riff punctuated by bouts of feedback and huge drum hits. The stuttering main line is backed by rabid, synchronised barks, the sludgy weight of the guitars rent apart by defiant rasps of “fuck you believer!” The riff snakes onward, propelled on by locked-in kick work, descending into a bout of hardcore fury – a chaotic, jarring riff that eventually slows into a jagged groove, whipped along by meaty snare hits that sound like snapping necks.
With ‘Pt. 3’, relentless riffs shower you like splinters of glass. Cymbal heavy drums pound out angular rhythms, a scalding, roared call-and-response vocal line persists even as the track slows to a murderous mid-pace. ‘Pt. 4’ brings back the atmosphere, a looping, reverb laden guitar intro is strengthened by layers of moody drums and grunting bass undertow, punctured by brief bursts of roared vocals and heavier, stabbing guitars. It drops down into an absolutely enormous, malevolent drive, bloated and dense. Through a jarring, atonal section into maddening guitars that claw at your sanity, into a slowly blooming, organically growing repetition. ‘Pt. 5’s razor-edged bass run propels us headlong into the vitriolic fury of the main riff, before things take a sharp left through a chaotic maelstrom of layered noise. A slower, sub-doom riff vomits forth, transfixed with chilling screams of “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you”, before collapsing, exhausted, into feedback.
A disgustingly sludgy, ponderous bassline greets you on closer ‘Pt. 6’, and you can feel it vibrating the air itself. A pin drops, and the vicious, biting rage returns, before quieting briefly, then returning once more. A jangling, thinner version of the riff arises, creeping guitars and steady toms building tension, before the track cracks open like a ribcage, exposing roiling, throbbing, tar coated innards. Held chords drop to feedback, with a rasped, rabid sermon winds itself down into spoken word and whispers over a wearied guitar riff and the final spasms of drums.
Intense, brooding, and scaldingly hateful, Damn You Believer is an album that possesses the capacity to terrify and uplift. Kalloused have created a blistering statement with their debut. Damn us, for we believe.