The Iron Point
t this point, it's become clear that Load Records is the most viable practitioner of noise records in the market. Riding the skies with Lightning Bolt's success, the label has put out a plethora of interesting (see: just as visceral, but not nearly as accessible or successful) releases that, in many cases, have little to do with that group's particular brand of brutal prog. One of the most notable additions to the roster is Noxagt, who first put out Turning it Down Since 2001 last year. Their sound has its origins, compositionally, in the same manner as Lightning Bolt, but they add viola to the mix, making them a completely different beast altogether.
Because, in contrast to Lightning Bolt, the bass here frequently can act as an actual base instrument, laying down a repetitive pattern and letting the other instruments do the grunt work of creating melodies or texture on top. Witness the opener "Naked in France", where the initial riff is laid down in the opening moments, allowing Nils Erga's viola to roam free without constraints. Erga, in this case, decides to weave minimalist droning over the top, wavering between a number of tones to achieve his purposes.
But this isn't to say that the bass isn't without its uses. When it does end up relegated to backing member, the playing is fuzzed out enough that it remains sonically interesting enough to stand by itself. The sloppiness at play here becomes an excellent tool to keep things vibrant and alive. On other tracks, however, the bass does take the lead. "Svartevatn" is one of these, in which the bass crawls across the stereo field like a snake, slithering its way deep into your consciousness, forever pounding its way home.
The drums may be the most useless member of the band, although their function is paramount. Much like Meg White of the White Stripes, it's the economy of drumming that's the key here, laying down simple patterns that allow both the bass and drums to steal the show. Perhaps the only exception here is "A Blast from the Past", in which a grinding massive beat is added to the infectious riffing provided by viola and bass.
Overall, The Iron Point serves as a comfortable second album from the template that the group laid down in last year's effort. There are few changes here—save Erga's grandfather singing on “Kling No Klokka”. Instead of being the huge jump that, say, Lightning Bolt made from their first album to Ride the Skies, The Iron Point is, if anything, a codification of the particular sound that the group has already cultivated: The Melvins + viola. As such, it's hard to truly recommend The Iron Point to listeners. But it's also hard to call it a disappointment. We'll just call it more of the same. And that ain't too bad.