They say good things come to those that wait. Yet it’s probably fairer to say better things come to those that work harder. Which exemplifies Rotterdam trio The Sweet Release Of Death and their gradual ascent in becoming one of the most exciting bands on the planet.
Having spent the best part of a decade honing their sound while wowing audiences up and down The Netherlands, dues paid and ideas flowing, they’ve created one of 2019’s most visceral, sonically challenging and ultimately rewarding records in the shape of The Blissful Joy Of Living. While both its predecessors – 2014’s debut Bulb and its self-titled follow-up two years later – could be described as experiments in sound, designed to test the waters and see where it took them. The Blissful Joy Of Living doesn’t so much feel like the end of one journey but the beginning of a new one.
Already a prominent fixture on The Netherlands burgeoning underground noise scene, that’s recently catapulted the likes of The Homesick, Pip Blom and Iguana Death Cult into territories above and beyond their homeland. The Sweet Release Of Death’s time in the spotlight is undoubtedly now. Combining elements of shoegaze, grunge, math rock and noise, comparisons with Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and Placebo (among others) aren’t wide off the mark here.
Whether that be in Alice Breton Ferrer’s menacing vocals and brooding basslines, Sven Engelsman’s flawless timekeeping on drums and percussion or Martijn Tevel’s frankly unique and occasionally skyscraping effects laden guitars. They’re an altogether different proposition to anything else we’ve encountered in 2019. Which suggests staying out of the limelight until you’re ready is the way forward.
Clocking in some thirty-five seconds short of twenty minutes, The Blissful Joy Of Living achieves more in its six individual pieces than most records do in triple the time. Never once outstaying its welcome or feeling forced, each and every one of its tracks veering from the guttural (‘Sway’) to the inquisitive (‘Hey’) and downright unnerving (‘Sick Girl’, ‘The Weather Is Great Today’). It’s a heady concoction that not only demonstrates interesting and charismatic guitar music is alive and kicking, but also Rotterdam is the place to be.
Ignore at your peril.
The Blissful Joy Of Living is out now.