Loud Guitar Goth Update 1: Maggot Heart
Hymns of the nightlife.
Three years ago, we were introduced to Loud Guitar Goth. The passage of time has broken Bandcamp embeds and spirits alike, but now the time is upon us to catch up with the artists from this not-at-all made up niche. Here’s part one of the two-part 2020 Loud Guitar Goth Update.
Maggot Heart – Mercy Machine
Rapid Eye Records | July 10, 2020
Opener “Second Class” immediately makes it clear: Maggot Heart are in top form, and they have some new tricks up their sleeve. That’s not to say that Mercy Machine goes overboard with experimentation or all-new instruments (although a saxophone rears its head later in the song), but they certainly seem determined to stretch and flex their style to see what it can accommodate. Dissonant clanging guitars, an off-kilter beat, and unforeseen twists give this song perhaps the queasiest atmosphere ever, but soon enough, it becomes apparent that everything is propelled by a groove you can comfortably stomp or nod along to. It’s similar with a couple of later songs that work in this fashion, which may come off janky and stuttery at first glance, but danceability is never disregarded.
This is by no means the only fresh avenue that Maggot Heart try out here, as “Sex Breath” is quick to point out with its surprising skank beat (or something close to one, in any case). “Roses” gets somewhat close to a pop song; the catchy verse and chorus promise a bit of hit potential and almost feel like they could come from any indie or alt rock band, were it not for the trademark air of darkness and mystique that Maggot Heart adds. After that, it’s back to the dirty streets this album calls home, albeit with yet another little twist. Hear for yourself the gritty, twisted blues of “Gutter Feeling.”
It’s merely a little twist, mind you. Despite the variety of new elements, long-time fans looking for familiarity never need to look for long. Tried and true elements are strewn throughout, chief amongst them Linneå Olsson’s voice, half singing, half proclaiming her findings from the darkest corners of the city. As said, the goal is not a total reinvention of the sound; previous releases have marked the boundaries, and the band occasionally bounce off them with apparent joy and confidence. At other times, you get songs like “Justine” and the title track, which altogether would hardly be out of place on the debut album or the god-tier EP.
One avenue that is shunned this time around is the quiet one where “Pinned Like a Butterfly” and “Buried Songs” from the first album live. The closest passerby is “Senseless,” but ultimately, the song ramps up to mirror the impending doom depicted in the lyrics. Mercy Machine is a more consistently energetic and somewhat more consistently satisfying affair then Dusk to Dusk, and despite a slightly underwhelming finale – “Modern Cruelty” abruptly reels itself back in just as it seems on the verge of erupting into chaos – it makes for an abrasive, yet captivating trip through the night, where every neon light only serves to deepen the shadows around it.
Mercy Machine is out this Friday, July 10th, on the newly founded Rapid Eye Records.