Kiev, Ukraine's Bichkraft are typically accustomed to recording their haphazard, caustic post-punk in makeshift spaces -- their second album, 2016's Shadoof, was taped in a self-built studio in the middle of a trash-strewn lot. From a technical standpoint, 800 is a major step up, as the bulk of it was recorded in a proper studio in New York City while the group was in the middle of its first North American tour, with Merchandise's Carson Cox serving as the producer. Even with upgraded technology, and studio time in a location much more receptive to their brand of noisy underground rock music, Bichkraft still manage to convey the disillusionment and anxiety of dwelling in an urban wasteland where few share their perspectives or interests. The group's approach is mostly the same as on Shadoof -- Bichkraft co-founders Jenia Bichowski and Dima Novichenko both sing and play abrasive guitar, Zenya Fenec bashes out beats on an electronic drum kit, and Serzh Kupriychuk's basslines loosely tie the racket together. Sam York and Elizabeth Skadden, both of the since-defunct WALL, guest on one song each, providing a welcome change from the group's two singers, whose flat voices can become grating after a while. York seems to bring the frenetic "Introducing Yourself" down to earth, arriving just as the careening guitars reach fever pitch and the drums become frantically choppy, and the track seems much more relaxed after she appears. Skadden takes the spotlight for "Some People Have All the Luck," and her echo-blasted voice switches from patient, reflective words of encouragement to aggravated shouting, over a backdrop of scorching guitar noise and splattered electro beats. The recording quality is certainly much clearer this time around, and the hooks are a bit sharper on songs like the blazing "Ashley," but it still ends up feeling a bit hollow and detached, making it hard to fully engage with the group's fury.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson