The illusion that a band builds a following online these days; utilising the various forms of social media to share their art in multiple formats to all and any parts of globe is somewhat shattered now.
I’ve searched online for a few days and concluded that finding anything of any substance about this band is at the very least, hard to come by. They have a Bandcamp page, a Twitter account with 4 followers at the time of writing and have possibly breached double figures on Facebook.
The ‘short read’ version of this article can end at this paragraph. Believe or not, you can actually be a great band without bothering with the internet. Who would have thought it?
At the Heart of the World are a duo hailing from Portland, Oregon. In their own words, ‘…emerging from the gloom of the Pacific north west’ and they certainly do present the ‘all-out industrial assault to society’ that they promise. Formed by Danny Porter (instruments/production) and Joshua Green (vocals).
Their sound to me is hardcore infused industrial/electronic that evokes thoughts of Steve Albini’s Big Black and more modern contemporaries such as the excellent Youth Code hailing from further south on the west coast, California. There are more obvious, less accurate comparisons you can make like Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails or some Ministry due to guitars being backed by programmed drum beats but it’s a bit weak.
Typically, each track comprises drums, guitar, synth and vocals in quite a stripped back but powerful combination. The beats remind of Big Black programming drum beats with some of Alec Empire’s (Atari Teenage Riot) gear. Some of the melody in the guitar riffs could be shoehorned into many varied genres that include more pop-orientated to all out brutality.
The vocalist, Joshua Green has great character and attitude. His voice is abrasive but wet, like he has to spit out a mouthful of blood after every stanza. Sometimes, and on more than one occasion throughout the album, the track will finish, instruments decay into silence while Green continues to spit out his tortured screams, as if he hasn’t finished what he needed to get out in time before the song ended. It’s a very small observation in the context of the album but an effective one to reel in the listener.
Lyrically the content is light but speaks to me of oppression and frustration, anger and vengeance. Most songs having chanted phrases that are repeated for effect. Opening track “Destroyer” starting off with the refrain: “Displace us; Destroy us” which is repeated over further sections of the song to the end. Delivered all the while with conviction, attitude and sheer anger, most at home in its more comfortable Hardcore surroundings.
There are unfortunately only seven tracks to flesh this album out. The length of this being my only criticism but easily repaired by hitting play from the beginning again (no hardship there, I assure you).
Some features are, and I have to be careful not to name the rest of the tracks here, are the excellent “Golden Cross” with its perfect demonstration of the dripping wet, rusty razor vocal I mentioned. The slow march stomper “Embrace the cripple” has some glorious riffing; “Fear and Peace” boasts a highly infectious, syncopated synth lead that is ultimately bolstered by the guitar later on, matching this line to provide one of the many HUGE moments on the album.
The title track winds things down slightly due to its emptiness and simplicity but has some lovely interplay between vocals in a call/response approach once the throb of a synth from yesteryear sets the atmosphere. Drums crash in, immediately reminding me on each listen of something from Big Black’s “Songs about fucking” L.P, maybe the opener, “The Power of Independent Trucking”, for your reference.
I found this band on Twitter after Deathwish Inc. retweeted their album release (released 26th Jan on Glory Kid) post and I’m grateful. It is a matter of time before more people catch on to the band. You can buy and stream now, be one of the first!
At the Heart of the World, what a gem, what a find. For fans of hardcore, industrial, electronic, metal, you name it. This band are shattering barriers of genre and crossing boundaries of style. Despite the air of familiarity, the combination on offer from ATHOTW is fresh and worth your time.