The Canadian thrashers' third album is urgent but occasionally lacks variation
A vicious sloughing of relentless, Formula 1-paced thrash, White Lung’s third album stands out from the hardcore hopefuls thanks to frontwoman Mish Way’s vocal, a crystal clear heckle that tempts as much as it terrifies. The deft, breakneck musicality of guitarist Kenneth William provides a solid foil to Way’s much-needed snarl – the fact that, since the release of their last record, half of the band are now living in Los Angeles and the other in the group’s original base of Vancouver doesn’t seem to have impacted on their chemistry.
In time-honoured aggro-punk tradition, most of the album’s 10 tracks sit around the two-minute mark. One of the longer offerings – though, granted, it’s still a full 23 seconds shy of three minutes – is ‘Face Down’, which though caustic and tightly wound is still deeply melodic. “You don’t make a sound/And die face down,” spits Way over urgent drums, calling out those who fail to find their own voice. ‘Drown With The Monster’, meanwhile, shudders into vibrant, violent life, a torrent of riffs and rage like Crystal Castles transplanted from the sweat and strobes of the rave tent to the leather and frayed denim of the main stage of Download Festival.
In Way, White Lung boast the most electrifying frontwoman of 2014. However, as passion-packed as her visceral diatribes are, they suffer through being frustratingly free of dynamics. It’s a problem that also affects the record’s razor-sharp guitar riffs, which slice indiscriminately into each other, their lack of ebb and flow failing to offer much in the way of emotional impact. ‘I Believe You’ is heavy with flat-out guitar battering but refuses to suggest anything in the way of a tune. “Don’t take me/You won’t make me/Because I’ll always win” states Way at the song’s climax, leaving the listener to wonder exactly what the competition was. Yet when the four piece successfully seize the middle ground between Motorhead and L7 – as they do on the gutter-metal pummel of ‘In Your Home’ and the unforgiving ‘Down It Goes’ – White Lung slay punk’s modern pretenders.