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Vestigial Limb - Put to the Sword [DumpsterScore Home Recordings - 2009]

Ah, good ol’ harsh noise. What would we do without it? Sure, we’ve got our power electronics, and our harsh noise walls, and all our various derivatives and sub- and super-genres, and we can probably manage pretty well with just the crunching filth of HNW and/or the misogynist mania of PE, but every once in a while, still, we experience a craving for relentless screeching and white noise and ear-splitting feedback, and it’s at those times that we pull out As Loud As Possible or Love & Noise and fall in love all over again. Vestigial Limb’s Ray Shinn never lost harsh noise out of sight, though, and his project is the best expression of his love for the genre one could wish for.

Put to the Sword is the project’s newest full-length, released through the excellent DumpsterScore Home Recordings. It is yet another addition to the admirable discography of Vestigial Limb, who by now has released through such great labels as Small Doses, Phage, Midori and Monorail Trespassing, and who has contributed to splits with such excellent artists as Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, Teeth Collection and Fletcher Pratt. Time to spin Vestigial Limb’s latest offering – is it yet another successful entry into Shinn’s ever expanding oeuvre of quality noise?

Hell yes. The disc consists of five tracks of complete, unending ruckus, culled – as per the credits – from tapes, record player and various electronics. There’s tons of things to hear in the ongoing stream of sound, though it’s pretty much impossible to pick out anything specific, seeing as the crackle and scrapes whir by at an awesome, incredible speed, tearing at your ears and sense like a mad man clad in iron hacking away at you with some oversized kitchen knife. It’s literally an assault on all of your senses, every single last one of them – but hey, that’s what we like, right? The textures are gorgeous; Shinn touches upon pretty much everything, blasting ultra low crunches and ultra high squeals and everything in between, literally all of it grainy like sand paper – raw, rough and pummeling.

The disc blasts away without there seeming to be much of a greater plan. Put to the Sword feels like a big pile of whatever was at hands – if it makes a noise, it qualifies – all mixed together with little regard for direction or arcs or composition, god help us. The label describes it as “old-school inspired industrial harsh noise”, and while that may seem like just another overly specific term for something that really doesn’t need such big terminology, it is actually incredibly aptly chosen. Put to the Sword evokes the good old times of cut-and-paste collage LP covers, analog Merzbow,  and no-quality cassette tapes with shoddy Xeroxed art that probably has a boob or two on it somewhere, if only you could still see it through all the photocopy degradation. It actually makes you feel quite nostalgic, and as the disc blasts on I feel like revisiting Paradoxa Paradoxa, or some Sound of Pig tape, or – oh man, the good old times.

If for anything, I admire Vestigial Limb for laying down such an excellent slab of harsh noise pur sang. Impervious to trends or fads, Ray Shinn goes on doing what he does best – offering mankind the type of noise that reminds us just how excellent and rewarding that type of noise can be. Upon finishing Put to the Sword, part of me wants to go back and blast all my battered Japanoise LPs, while another part just wants to play, nay: experience, Put to the Sword again and again. And that is the greatest strength of this dics: that it is not just a testament to the greatness of Vestigial Limb, but to the greatness of a genre.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Sven Klippel
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