Some bands make you go “wow” with their music. Then there are those make you exclaim “Hell yeah!” or “F*ck yeah!” with each release. Southampton / Portsmouth outfit Melt Dunes fall under the latter category. However, they do it in a fashion that goes against the norm. Instead of blasting anthemic rockers that get the endorphins bursting, they hammer out grim and wicked psychedelic rock and krautrock. Calling it witch rock would be adept because their songs lead to delirium and enchantment. All of these characteristics are revealed on their new EP, Flesh.
Although there are only four songs, the record’s duration approach 30 minutes. Yes, each one is an epic. Opener “What’s Your Name” is the darkest and most grueling of the tracks. For 7.5 minutes, Melt Dunes concoct a sonic elixir that is The Wytches, The Horrors, and Black Mountain all combined together into one mesmerizing number. A song that would be appropriate for the arrival of the Boogeyman or Jason, where each second terror grows inside you and all you want to do is scream but cannot.
“Epicaricacy”, meanwhile, is the ballad for Bela Lugosi, who was the original Dracula, or any dark angel. Then again, given that the word means “rejoicing at or deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others”, the song could be used to describe a certain someone presiding over “the land of the free”. As the My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegaze guitar sears in the background, the band deliver a story of a man drowning in the darkness (or maybe it is expectations). Just as the song is about to reach another level, Melt Dunes throw a massive curve ball and take us inside a haunted house where everyone is laughing at us. The track’s final half is eye-popping whacked but awesome.
The album’s shortest number – at nearly six minutes – is also the EP’s finest. With “Flesh”, Melt Dunes weave an epic that bursts with the krautrock explosiveness of CAN and the psychedelic delirium of The Black Angels and The Black Lips. It is a fiery and anthemic flame-thrower that gets the adrenaline flowing, requires one to frantically wave his head from side-to-side, and comes with the obligatory fist pumps. It’s also a welcome break from the darker numbers.
But terror and doom are where the band love to do their work, “Grotesque”, is the best of the lot. The song isn’t a loud and thunderous track, but instead the English band use a prodding, brooding pace to create a gloomy atmosphere. It feels like we are entering the mysterious cabin of The Blair Witch Project or walking alone in a dark, unlit alley where Jack the Ripper might be waiting. The vocals further intensify the creepiness in air with their methodical approach before rising to a piercing scream.
Like watching a great horror film or reading a Stephen King novel before bed, Flesh will send goosebumps down your back and possibly even unnerve you. As such, it’s best to hear it with the lights on and maybe during the day. It’s creepy good and a terrific introduction to the underground world in which Melt Dunes reside. Think of them as The Exorcist of psychedelic rock – a band whose music will leave a lasting imprint in your mind.
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