Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray by Bruxa MariaRelease date: January 27, 2023
Label: Riot Season
On their third album noise punks Bruxa Maria return darker, denser, and even more relentless than they were before. Looking out on the bleak prospect of 2023, Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray echoes your own heart sinking dismay. It has that same bitter taste on its tongue, a paralysing fury in its throat. Loud, angry and chaotic, it’s the sound of the overwhelm.
Last month’s Skinwalker, a loose noise improvisation recorded in collaboration with MoE when they toured together a few years ago, fed a rumour the band had ended and were wrapping things up with an archive release. Time was, Gill Dread was going through band members like the Mark E Smith of the UK noise rock underground. On the contrary this line up (Dave Cochrane, Paul Antony, Robbie Judkins) is now long standing and, while Skinwalker saw them stretch out and get loose, this new album finds them further defining and perfecting the possibilities of the core Bruxa sound. The aptly named Dread as the howling ghost in the belly of their fine tuned machine.
I feel a cliché warning might be advisable at this point for our more sensitive readers because Bruxa Maria invoke all the familiar images attached to loud and heavy music of various stripes – juggernauts, thunder, aerial bombardment, runaway trains and so on. They may tour in a battered transit van but they sound like a fleet of bombers approaching. In their case I put this largely, but by no means entirely, down to the alien machine drones Judkins weaves through their livid roar. The bomber imagery I think we can safely blame on Motörhead whose influence here is perhaps more spiritual than it is audible. Although the opening bars of ‘Run Pilgrim’ are not too far off.
‘Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray’ is both different from the rest of the record and a perfect title track capturing the prevailing mood. A long instrumental of drones and darkening skies split by spasms of thrashing drums and noise it certainly feels like we’ll need to cling to whatever faith we have in the face of the coming storm. ‘God Gun Scruples’ opens in similar style, meaning when it properly kicks off you really feel it hit. The God Gun is an idea, of a weapon that would instantly eliminate humanity at the pull of a single trigger, so that’s how we’re feeling about things. It has a conflicted swing in its hips too, like it’s not convinced yet but it can kinda see the upside.
It definitely makes you dance about more readily than ‘Dance Like Vasili’ which is a dervish if anything, a hammer down, hardcore, frenzy. Too fast to dance to maybe but an uplifting cathartic rush which spills into the album’s centrepiece. ‘Blind Side’ is a monster, its first few minutes a thickening metal drone and, yes, thundering drums but buried deep in the roar is a guitar line that sounds like a flicker of hope. It’s so far back it’s almost a memory or an aural hallucination. Above it sounds like everyone playing as fast and hard as they can until the vocal comes in and it goes up another notch. Just when you think it’s going to fly off the top of the mountain it cuts out and trudges down through a second half of regret, a manic high followed by a weary low.
On ‘True Say’ a quiet gentle melody circles around a taut pulse, the tension easing away rather than releasing. That might be as calm as it gets. Bruxa Maria are an almost remorseless assault. Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray is a punishing listen, you could call it monotone but the album’s relentlessness matches their huge sound, which carries more light and shade than first appears. The storm is raging.