19 May 2024

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Guilt Grip - Guilt Grip - Album Review: Guilt Grip

12 Apr 2024 // A review by Nicholas Clark

Tamaki Makaurau Auckland four-piece Guilt Grip present here, available in the unconventional medium of cassette tape, their first full length self-titled album.

It’s an abrasive listen that suits the surreal collaged artwork by Lia Boscu, and one that proudly and loudly celebrates the band’s passions and values. Will Gresson and Martin Phillips (both play guitars and sing vocals) create some sonic textures that sounds similar to other post-punk bands of New Zealand (Swallow the Rat comes to mind) but, for the most part, it's all about angular riff barrage topped with yelled vocals using unusual rhythms and interesting melody lines.

Ciara Bernstein (drums and vocals) plays heavily on most of this record, but there’s a few jazzy moments sprinkled in there. Along with Nicola Edwards (bass and vocals) the rhythm section serves up a strong foundation for the effect heavy sounds of the Gresson and Phillips to play over.

New York’s A Place to Bury Strangers might be the type of band this act would like to open for, but that’s only sonically speaking. Politically active or aware artists might be drawn to the band for other reasons, as many songs are odes to protests, causes and issues we find in our increasingly digitally connected, but socially disconnected modern life.

The album begins with one of the few tracks that are instrumental soundscapes decorated with fuzzy effect noises or samples. Built in Obsolescence is the first of these tracks and introduces the listener to the themes that will be explored with ominous thunder. Second track Cato erupts out of the gate with furious yelling and a severe, intense riff with abrupt stops. Below, thunderous bass with fuzz propels the song along. It's immediate and angry. Third song Male Intuition, (featuring Tuesday Hutchinson on synth) is a song about narcissistic toxic behaviour. Past is heavier still, if that’s possible. Not until If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em where the band showcases a more subtle approach to noise generation, demonstrating their ability to create a soundscape built from sampled noise to create a tone poem of sorts.

I feel as if this may now be the second side of the record, where the cassette is flipped perhaps, as Breaking Point is a great opener, maybe for live performances. There are some shocking high notes that point at the urgent sensation the song is constructing, but then halfway through, the song begins to deteriorate deliberately, and as there are lyrics about late-stage capitalism, I imagine the song breaking is synonymous with civilization collapse. Next track Peerage is true single material, featuring a dark ominous riff you might expect from either Deftones or perhaps Swans in their heavier moments. This song also has some more delicate singing which makes it perhaps more accessible than earlier songs from the first side.

Away is classic post punk (the most like Swallow the Rat) and then there’s another soundscape noise track, Blank Canvas, although this one has more programmed noise that turns into a hypnotic rhythm. Wasted, their previously released single from an EP this year, is built off an interesting middle eastern inspired riff with some tasteful reverb. There are similar noises on this song, with the same urgent, concerning melodies that create tension. Finally, last track Old Circles (which I thought was going to be another segue, experimental tracks) has a longer introduction before transforming into perhaps the heaviest song on the album.

The album is unapologetic, angsty and loud, especially on the first half of the record. It’s not until you reach the second half that Wasted (current single) and Peerage (next single?) offer a reprieve from the bombardment. Recorded by Phillips and mastered by Felix-Florian Todtloff at The Vault (as the building was in the early stages of demolition) it was an album recorded quickly and urgently, not unlike the music itself. There’s a lack of shine here that suits the immediacy of the songs and band. It’s raw and honest.

Although the band is relatively new, the lineup features members of Half/Time, Repairs, God Bows To Math and Fausto Maijstral, and between them they’ve toured all of New Zealand, Australia, USA, South Africa, China and Europe and the band is planning an ambitious New Zealand tour now in promotion of this latest offering.


About Guilt Grip

Tamaki Makaurau Auckland four-piece Guilt Grip were brought together in late 2022. Four friends navigating the perpetual crises of late stage capitalism by holding onto a shared love of abrasive noise and an appreciation of the DIY musical community. Guilt Grip are unapologetic, angsty and loud despite being four self-confessed introverts. Making their live debut in July 2023, Guilt Grip will be touring around Aotearoa after releasing their debut record in March 2024.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Guilt Grip


Guilt Grip
Year: 2024
Type: Album

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