My letterb-OX

A few weeks ago, the mighty Coalesce hooked up with those fine people at iLike to offer a competition.Much like that Melvins one from a few months ago, applicants were asked to write about their favourite Coalesce song. What it is? Why is it? Etc. So I entered: the prioize was a copy of their new album, OX, on shiny black 180g vinyl. And I won! Here’s what I said:

I chose ‘What Happens On The Road Always Comes Home’ at first. It was my initial taste of Coalesce ferocity. I’ll never forget the moment, now a decade ago, when the restless, merciless, technical riffing gave way to the almost southern-rock groove melody. And back again. But then I realised my favourite is probably ‘Sometimes Selling Out Is Waking Up’.

Beside what’s possibly their best actual title, the lyrics scythe through sXe-nesters (“nothing is said no matter how angry or impassioned it may seem”) with humour and venom. It’s the evil twin to Botch’s majestic ‘C. Thomas Howell as “The Soul Man”‘, in that both songs artistically demolish years of hollow hardcore posturing. The music backs this up more than ably: the main riff is so complex as to sound like it changes aural direction numerous times before pratfalling down a set of stairs.

As though screwing our heads off with a sequence infinitely more twisted than any of the hardcore they’re satirising [weren’t enough], they up the ante with a three-chord chorus so satisfyingly heavy it sounds like ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ spinning in reverse through the Earth’s crust. Why is this song my favourite? Because in the space of a couple of minutes, it showcases the peaks of both musical complexity and simplicity, married to a lyrical raised eyebrow and Coalesce’s always-pinpoint musicianship. It’s a band – and a noisecore aesthetic – in a nutshell.

Finally got a chance to listen to it today – and it really cooks. They manage to walk that fine line between reminding us all why we love Coalesce in the first place, and offering new sounds and ideas to justify the decade-long lay-off. Not that they need to justify moving on, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, a proper write-up is on the way. Just one regret surrounding this Coalesce reunion: they were playing their first England gig in over a decade the day I flew out to Iran for ten days. So I missed out on my (seemingly once-in-a-lifetime) chance to see them. (Hopefully I’m wrong about that one…) It would also have been nice to interview them in person. Again, hopefully that opportunity arises in the not-too-distant future. Anyway, get it listened if you like heavy, smart music.

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