A Place to Bury Strangers


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For all their noise, A Place to Bury Strangers have been evolving subtly over the years, delivering more smudgy nuances to their noise-rock with each album. This time, Oliver Ackermann and company move forward by taking the contrast between their deadpan and explosive moments to extremes; if their last album, Worship, was a sleek race car, then Transfixiation is where they crash it just to watch it burn. With the help of drummer Robi Gonzalez, who makes his recorded debut here, the band gets closer than ever to its live attack on "Supermaster" and "Straight," where the massive riffs cave in on themselves and Ackermann's icy-hot vocals add some sensuality to the destruction. Even for A Place to Bury Strangers, this is a loud album, so it takes a while to hear just how much variety is wrapped up in its noise. "We've Come So Far," which is equal parts pummeling, stylish, and sexy, may be the most quintessentially APTBS song here, but the band delves into shoegazey pop ("What We Don't See"), punkabilly ("I'm So Clean"), and soundtrack-ready mystique ("Lower Zone") with equal confidence. They're also capable of evoking increasingly specific moods with their fine-tuned chaos: Despite its brevity, "Love High" is equally claustrophobic and euphoric thanks to its woozy guitars and relentless drums. Elsewhere, the band delivers several flavors of death wishes, but whenever things threaten to become monotonous -- as they nearly do on the six-minute centerpiece "Deeper" -- they manage to find a new wrinkle on these themes. "Fill the Void" could be A Place to Bury Strangers' theme song as it reaffirms that few bands borrow from and update the legacies of Suicide and Spacemen 3 as well as they do. By the time Transfixiation culminates in the fireball that is "I Will Die," it feels like A Place to Bury Strangers have escaped from the wreckage to deliver some of their darkest and most diverse music yet.

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