By the time bassist Rebecca Burchette and drummer Jake Cregger’s stalking beat ignites ‘Foreign Object,’ the third cut on Multicult’s substantial new album, you realize you’re dealing with a pugilist who isn’t going to knock you out but wear you down—and then you’re going to realize “Variable Impulse” is one beating you won’t mind taking.
This local-ish trio (Burchette and guitarist/vocalist Nick Skrobisz are Baltimore-based; Cregger, who also pounds away with local grind powerhouse Triac, is in northern Virginia) has spent the last few years occasionally issuing solid releases and walloping live sets.
With “Variable Impulse,” its third LP, Multicult deserves to reach those ears that champion Toronto’s METZ and Atlanta’s Whores., two of the few contemporary noise-rock bands as interested in distortion less for its melodic capacity than for its abrasive oomph. Burchette and Cregger make a disorienting ruckus out of deceptively simple rhythms. Skrobisz’s guitar is a serrated menace but he uses it as precisely as a sushi chef cutting pufferfish and vocally, Skrobisz alternates between declamatory sing-speak and a blistering scream, putting a layer of anxiety atop the band’s already-pent-up tensions. This combo gives album standout ‘Jaws’ its intoxicating turmoil.
Multicult capitalizes on restraint as well: the buzzing spray bubbling atop the driving surge in ‘Particle Shower’; the needling growl complementing the thundering pulse of ‘Expressionless’; and the choice riff powering the lurching ‘Nimbus.’ And Multicult’s sense of noise as dissatisfaction’s voice recall acts such as Chicago’s Rapeman, Minneapolis’ under-sung Hammerhead, and especially Los Angeles’ Distorted Pony, who paired postpunk’s throb with Swans’ urban-decay glare.