22nd January 2016 – Relapse Records
01. Not A Daughter
It has been years since the elusive Agoraphobic Nosebleed have made any noise – both in terms of news or new music. The concept behind Arc, as well as the coming parts of the quadrilogy it’s a part of, dates all the way back to 2012 when ANb announced their plan to have each of its members release an EP that is representative of their individual aesthetic. Though this was recorded between the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2014, only now in January of 2016 is this project finally seeing the light of day.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed may be known for impossibly brief bursts of music with songs frequently clocking in at fewer than ten seconds and seldom exceeding half a minute, but Arc turns this expectation completely on its head. Prior to this, if someone had said that Agoraphobic Nosebleed were putting out a three song EP the assumption would be that the album would be over in the time it takes to change the channel when Donald Trump comes on. What we have instead is three tracks averaging nine minutes each that are unlike anything the band have done prior to this.
Those who have heard and seen Katherine Katz fronting Washington, D.C. based doom band Salome will be transported back to 2010 when the devastating Terminal was released. Katz sounds completely at home on each of these massive songs, with lyrics that are deeply personal as they reveal psychological (and possibly physical) abuse, interpersonal distress, and piercing regret. Katz’s voice is powerful, tortured, distinctive, and – most importantly – comprehensible; the way she enunciates her screams is extremely appealing and it allows for listeners to become much more engrossed with the music on display than they otherwise might.
The heavily southern sludge influenced riffs on Arc are catchy and certainly serviceable, if not especially unique, and do well to support the main focus, which appropriately is the vocals. This isn’t the first foray Scott Hull has had with slower music, so while it is relatively unexplored territory compared to the deluge of grind he has released he still has notable competencies in this subgenre. Arc has some inspired harmonic leads on “Deathbed”, and the latter half of “Gnaw” boasts Hull’s heaviest riffs since Pig Destroyer’s epic “Natasha.” Hull is the only member of Agoraphobic Nosebleed who will be featured on each of the 4 EPs, so it will be fascinating to see what he brings to the table supporting the two other vocalists and then hearing what he does all on his own.
It’s a promising start to a long-awaited and highly-anticipated project. Katz has done a remarkable job here as always, and it’s exciting to hear her do the work at which she excels better than just about anyone else. Arc is yet another high mark for Agoraphobic Nosebleed, and hopefully the rest of the project comes along shortly because this is a great appetiser for 2016.