Currency // Castration
First impressions, they say, are everything. For instance, GELD’s old record label described the Melbourne, quartet’s 2016 self-titled debut 7-inch as “psychedelic hardcore,” and the band have been paying for it ever since.
In recent interviews, GELD conceded that the implied trippiness of their inherited genre tag could have something to do with how guitarist Cormac Ó Síocháin prefers to slather tone-warping phaser and wah-wah effects into the band’s hyper-speed missives, rather than just put his boot down on a dimed-out DS-1 distortion pedal. Then again, it could be that the artwork for the band’s new Currency // Castration has a much more vibrant colour palette than your average hardcore release, its surrealistic, pastel-print skull screaming into the void like a cousin of that disembodied head on the cover of The Cure’s 4:13 Dream. Even Síocháin suggested that certain songs from their sophomore album took months to complete, since “Al [Smith, vocalist] wants to be Agnostic Front and the rest of us want to be Pink Floyd.” But let’s not fool ourselves with the dressings: Currency // Castration is raw, unchecked hardcore aggression. And good on GELD for ultimately getting it out there.
To that end, the act’s first album for the esteemed Relapse imprint isn’t quite as odd as their influences would suggest. You can maybe sense a bit of Agnostic Front in how “Secret Prison” finds Ó Síocháin’s rhythmic wrist delivering crossover-style precision in the vein of the New York greats’ Cause for Alarm, but no one’s mistaking this record for Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Instead, GELD’s latest, drilled-down attack seems to be pulling influence from the primordial days of Japanese d-beat — “Cut You Down” is a bpm-jolted rage-out a la Gauze; the bluster of Ó Síocháin’s slash-and-burn shredding throughout his two-minute solo on “The Fix Is In,” performed across multiple tempos, gives off G.I.S.M. vibes.
For his part, Smith’s ungodly rasp is marked with an abstract cynicism. Paranoid thoughts point to innumerable, yet untold dangers closing in on him (“The Fix Is In”); society’s “monolithic forces” have left him drained and nihilistic (“It’s hard to care when you’re tired,” he howls on “Hanging from a Rope”); and every waking hour just compounds his frustrations (“Clock Keeps Crawling”). Bitter stuff, on the whole, with Smith’s lines on the penultimate “Secret Prison” highlighting an impenetrable, isolated mindscape. Instrumental finale “Castration” brings the mix out of the red through some sparse acoustic guitar, but the morose melody isn’t exactly a calming comedown.
The tricky thing with Currency // Castration is that while GELD sound fierce, outside of a few guitar textures and tempo changes this is a pretty straight-forward d-beater. Then again, not every album has to completely redefine the parameters of hardcore punk. While perhaps painted by their early promo team as genre-pushers, that’s not much of a concern for GELD (“The only rule is that we all like it,” Smith told Treble of the end-goal). Again, good on them.
The blown-out tones and bitter vibes of the Australian group’s latest release might not expand your mind, but it’s still a decent head-trip.
pre-order Currency // Castration by Geld HERE
Looking for something new to listen to?
Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.