Irish noisy riff-mongers Murdock are the perfect example of a band taking its influences and expanding upon them. The band’s Basick Records debut, Dead Lung, harnesses the spastic energy of The Dillinger Escape Plan and the artistic insanity of The Chariot to craft the best progressive hardcore album in recent memory. What makes Murdock so successful is its adventurous streak, but there’s always an inherent (latent, maybe) pop sensibility about these noisy tracks that helps make Dead Lung surprisingly memorable. This is a musical maelstrom of the highest order.
Of course, let’s not undersell the chaos here. “Erk” is bonkers, showcasing how impressive Murdock’s rhythm section is. Ronan Nolan must have some sort of unspeakable hatred of his drum set because he plays with a barely controlled menace that is a joy to listen to. Bassist Rob Powderly has a curious style for a hardcore band; he plays as if he wanted to be in one of the Garage punk bands during the rise of the “The” bands from the last decade (Vines, Strokes, etc.). This gives many of the chaotic moments a playful edge that is uncommon in such aggressive music.
The whole album just flows masterfully. When you need a break from the furious nature, “Narrowcasting” offers up a harrowingly sludgy recess. That brief respite flows into two of the best concoctions of melodic insanity on here: “Brain Face” and “The Signal In The Noise”. They beg to incite a personal riot in your home or office. It helps that all of the songs, despite differing sonic palates carry one lyrical theme: that science and logic trump narrow views of the world. The theme could be taken to its logical negative conclusion (hey, there’s no god, so we’re all going to suffer/die/burn), but Murdock approaches it from the more optimistic perspective, that life is precious, so one must enjoy the time he or she has while on this orbiting sphere. It gives even the album’s darkest and most chaotic moments a neat unity.
Murdock has definitely crafted a monster of an album with Dead Lung. This is gleefully chaotic hardcore that doesn’t feel completely indebted to its influences. Sure, not every one of these thirteen songs hits a home run, but the record will be a definite contender for hardcore album of the year. Murdock’s brand of progressive and technical hardcore is absolutely devastating and awesome. (Nicholas Senior)