Wake in Fright by Uniform

Release date: January 20, 2017
Label: Sacred Bones Records

Uniform’s cacophonous output could be likened to that of a dogfight between industrial, punk, trash metal and razor sharp electronics that when forced into the ring together to trigger a mechanized apocalypse. Perfect World, the uncompromising debut, saw the inception of Uniform’s aggressive sound in the form of drum machines, vicious guitar rhythms harnessed by engineer Ben Greenberg (The Men) and crazed vocals from Michael Berdan (Drunkdriver).

The result was a collection of grinding and pummeling tracks suited to the notions of despair and lyrics of conflict and chemical addiction. Releasing an EP and this subsequent sophomore effort through Sacred Bones seems more than fitting, especially due to Greenberg’s production involvement with other releases on the label. The Ghosthouse 12” was their short introduction to Sacred Bones; a 3-track barrage of audio destruction. It was the perfect first blow to transition into the release of Wake in Fright, an LP certain to leave a mark as their most punishing output yet.

It’s impossible to detach context from the release and the very music of Wake in Fright; having come out on the inauguration day of the American president and the LP featuring actual samples of military conflict, the very essence of this album reeks of a potential nightmarish human future. The scraping and trashing track ´The Killing of America´ holds the clearest evidence of this, standing as one of the most searing moments on the album. This track and ’Bootlicker´ demonstrate the level of ferocity that Uniform can wield; the guitars underneath the distortion sound serrated as the assault of percussion drives the rhythm forward. These moments are the duo’s rage harnessed in an almost claustrophobic sonic space that blurs the lines of their metal, industrial and punk influences.

Highlights like ‘Habit’ and ‘The Lost’ are equally fantastic tracks but for different reasons. ‘Habit’ is this absorbing nocturnal drone of guitars that throb until swelling into a riff that sounds so welcoming among the waves of feedback, whilst ‘The Lost’ alternates the records tropes once more with its pounding drum patterns and Berdan’s yelps that sound utterly desperate in the gothic air of the track. The fact Uniform can create emotional pulls within a record so often focused on aggressive delivery is the sign of a truly interesting and diverse project.

The record is certainly draining, yet leaves me gasping for more each time the impossibly bleak ‘The Light at the End (Effect)’ fades out. It leaves very contrasting feelings, one of pure dread and horror that the greater setting we reside in continues to decay, but also realizing that this music can embody that fear and help resist it. As Greenberg himself said in the lead up to the release of this LP, “I hope this record can help others transcend their anger and frustration.”

To put it simply, Wake in Fright is not only an excellent listen, but also a record of violent reflection which fits perfectly as the sort of artistic output that is needed right now. This and Uniform’s future output is promising, I look forward to see what form it takes.

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