Release Date: Oct 11, 2019
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Nearly 25 years into their existence as one of the more intense and imaginative noise rock bands of their era, very rarely has Providence, Rhode Island duo Lightning Bolt produced anything even remotely resembling a catchy pop melody. Much of the group's wooly discography has been made up of Brian Gibson's mutant bass sounds and Brian Chippendale's immaculate drumming, occupying an otherworldly territory somewhere between grindcore tempos, tribal ecstacy and high level technical excellence. Only with their 2015 album Fantasy Empire did the band lean into all that an upscale studio could offer their sound.
For 25 years now, Lightning Bolt has made a career out of indulging only the most gnarled riffs, covering every sound in brittle distortion, and playing live shows so loud and destructive that they--literally--blow out the power and leave the performers covered in blood. The duo's dedication to this "move fast, break everything" mentality is still strong on Sonic Citadel, their seventh full-length album. The first song is called "Blow to the Head," a three-minute blast of punishing kick drum, acrid bass riffs, and squealed vocals like a pile of styrofoam plates tossed on a bonfire.
Photo: Nick Sayers So, is the new Lightning Bolt any good? I've always thought of Lightning Bolt as a lifestyle as much as a band. I first saw them perform in the early aughts. It was a weird time for me. In 2002, I had just finished my undergraduate studies, and had rather unwisely moved to Boston ….
Photo by Nick Sayers Sonic Citadel by Lightning Bolt Deep into Sonic Citadel, Lightning Bolt's new record, there's a song called "Bouncy House." The title provides a pretty good metaphor for Lightning Bolt's sound and performance environment: you climb aboard and immediately start jouncing and caroming about. Bodies go ricocheting past. There are lots of glowing colors and manic laughter.