Dance and rock have been combined many times over the years, but seldom with thudding intensity like that of SCALPING. “People play dance music with live instruments,” multi-instrumentalist Alex Hill told NME last year, “but I think often when it’s done, it’s not dark or heavy – it’s fun and colourful and bouncy. We wanted to do it and make it dark.” Across a host of hype-building early singles and this, their debut EP, the Bristol band go as dark as you can get.
On debut single ‘Chamber’, released in early 2019, the band presented a fully-formed world, rubbing bubbling techno up against live drums and the metallic crunch of distorted guitars. When defined genres such as these come together, often one or both sides are compromised in the creation of the hybrid; with SCALPING, both their techno leanings and metal elements manage to retain their strengths rather than crowding each other out – the space where they cross over is exhilarating.
Through otherworldly, vicious imagery and song titles like ‘Monolithium’ and earlier singles ‘Deadlock’ and ‘Ruptured’, SCALPING’s commitment to harsh aesthetics is already hard to avoid, and that’s before you even get to the music. On the four tracks that make up the ‘FLOOD’ EP, they hammer this home even further through their noise. The wired, frantic ‘Cloudburst’ is full of bleeps, sirens and scything stabs of guitar: it sounds like being hurtled through space in a rocket ship towards the apocalypse while a metal band plays in the corner.
Elsewhere, halfway through ‘The Perimeter’, a melodic, squirming synth line sits on top of the song while layers of guitar squirm below; when the two collide in a club-ready drop, it feels like a summation of everything the band are working towards, and a chaotic cacophony of noise. Closing track ‘Empty Cascade’ points to the future, as the band’s signature claustrophobic sound folding out into something more expansive and sweeping.
The band have said that the whole idea of SCALPING revolves around their live show, and the music on ‘FLOOD’ would be equally at home on a festival line-up in between DJs or in a cramped basement alongside hardcore bands, with not a hint of compromise on either end. Get yourself a band like SCALPING who can do both.
- Release date: June 18
- Record label: Houndstooth