New York City’s sludgy, synth-driven noise rock provocateurs Netherlands return with another twisted gem of an album, just in time to blow minds on their upcoming tour opening for Mastodon and Dinosarur Jr. Black Gaia is the band’s second release this year, following the heavy pop fun of the Hope Porn EP this past February. Where that album had a more bright feel to it, Black Gaia seems to be coming from a darker place. In addition, the band has added second synth bass player Chealsea Wierbonski for this recording, pushing their “maximum loudness” aesthetic even further.
The album opens with a brief instrumental, “Arp Jam 74,” which leads right into the first proper track, “Ton”, a song that features a chaotic wall of noise and off-kilter riffs. “Nite Nite” rides a big lumbering riff to sludge rock glory, while vocalist/guitarist Timo Ellis ethereally croons above the sonic damage. “Crabs” takes a similar approach, but adds some chaotic noisy parts along with quieter parts to its mix. It also makes time to rock out. “Army!” and “Deep Fuck 9” are shorter, punkier blasts of their technicolor sludge.
The title track is a true sonic departure from the rest of the album. It’s minimalist and ambient, choosing restraint over their usual awesome bombast. “Wo Man” mixes righteous riffs, soulful singing and calmer jazzy parts into one dynamic beast.
Black Gaia is another killer dose of the band’s patented noisy, sludge rock weirdness, and it takes time for some pointed social commentary. They always impress. So, do yourself a favor; if you’re going to see Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. on their current tour, show up early for their set, and prepare to have your mind blow.