Based on the fact they boast members from both Undersmile and Crippled Black Phoenix, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Oxford’s Drore would tread a similarly doomy, progressive path. Not so. TAPEONE sees them sees them vomit forth four slabs of filthy, roiling spite that marries the dense tones of sludge and quivering feedback of drone with the jarring, angular experimentation found in noise rock.
‘Skinjob’ opens with a sample of someone pissing, angrily and at length, before flushing. It goes on for much longer than you’d expect, immediately unsettling the listener, planting you firmly on the back foot, a fitting prelude for what’s about to come. Whining feedback rises before giving way to a massive lumbering riff, propelled by a huge bass undercurrent and the weightiest kick you’ll have heard for some time. Taz Corona-Brown’s vocals straddle the line between agonized groan and hoarse, commanding shout, and she’s joined by Tom Greenway’s chilling shrieks, rising as if from the bottom of a well. Guitars alternate between stabbing, jarring atonality and thick, muscular chugging, and Drore delight in running you through a gauntlet of rhythmic pummelling, mires of sludgy weight and frantic, relentless drives.
‘Hippy Crack’ is much more immediate, confrontational, throwing a dense wall of force at you, dropping into a slick, roiling riff. Stephen Frame absolutely leathers both snare and cymbals, and the song takes on even more snarling malice as the unstoppable, fetid groove slowly opens out and exhausts itself, conjuring dread with steady drums and a near subsonic bass line that you feel as much as hear. The guitars return in layers, drums hustling on, chords probing their tendrils into negative space, before the ‘heavy’ drops back in, like a corpse through a plate glass window, a raging torrent, hateful and jagged.
‘Greys’ takes its sweet time, huge, shuddering chords grind away in a squall of feedback, tribal, tom heavy drums beat out a patter that bodes ill. Shimmering cymbals usher in a cyclical, jarring loop, frenzied shrieks puncturing the spiralling darkness. It melts into slower, thick, predatory chords, exhausted vocals lending an air of desperation as the loop returns, scraping away, and fraying nerves. Layers slough off, leaving whining guitars, drums and Olly corona-Brown’s driving, direct, shifting bass groove, which eventually peter out into amp noise alone.
Closer ‘Fukbags’ bulks up from an initial blast of scratchy, compressed guitars, shifting chords lapsing into uncomfortable hard panned noise and tolling, droning chords. There’s a growing sense of anxiety and mania, bolstered by hoarse, raging vocals. Things give the impression of calm, easy drums, distant guitar meandering and smooth bass lull into a false sense of security before coalescing and building steadily into an apocalyptically heavy mass, hurling abrasive noise around atop racing drums, before ending in hissing feedback.
TAPEONE is a challenging release – for those averse to unsettling ugliness, crushing density and remorseless ferocity, it’s not one for you. But there’s a deep, unquestionable catharsis in the four tracks on offer, a release from inner turmoil, angst and anger that the record ekes out of you with every savage chord, clattering drum fill or bellowed vocal. What’s most impressive is how ‘together’ the quartet sound. If this is how focussed, confident and driven Drore are on their debut release, appetites will be whet for more. Top Drore.