Antlered Man - Giftes 1&2
Hailing from the Godawful South London borough of Bermondsey – once officially home to more career criminals than anywhere else in England, now home to commuters toiling to make end meets in a faceless, sporadically violent suburb– Antlered Man have set themselves up as ambassadors of adversity, kicking against the grind of their locale with an uneasy hybrid of sound. They’ve picked up comparisons to Mike Patton’s more outré projects, and the mathematical detail of System of a Down, and this debut, released on their own Goo Grrrl imprint, splurges on jerky tempo changes, spastic rhythms and crunching metal assaults. It’s an ambitious first album- although at times the bands ambition outstrips their studio skills, leaving parts of Giftes 1&2 suffering from occasional muddy production. On balance however, Antlered Man prove themselves capable of transgressing genre with a sharp, nocturnal wit and dark swagger.
Lyrically, singer Damo Ezekial Holmes veers from the anti capitalist rage of the throbbing, excellent current single Surrounded By White Men, to an obsession with the freakier members of existence, as seen on the patricide detailing Schizo Tennis. The latter track has a lot that’s both good and bad about Antlered Man contained in one song—musically it’s one of the albums highlights; an unexpected lullaby of prairie gospel as a setting for a twisted story of child abuse and murder. The delivery is all good, but the lyrics leave nothing to subtlety, and when Holmes is singing about ‘caving in daddy’s head with a claw hammer’ it degrades the song from fine creeping horror to cheap slasher gore, more teenage boy trying to impress than genuinely unsettling.
Aside from this occasional lyrical cheesiness, Antlered Man have delivered a strong first album- throughout they strive to contort their songs into new directions, never settling for an easy out, and producing some sublime moments in the process. Any fans of forward looking, awkward rock would do well to spend some time immersed in their twisted missives of sound and fury. 7/10.
Giftes 1&2 is released March 5th on Goo Grrl Records