Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"What Black Flag would be if they’d come together in 2009 instead of 1981."

by Iann Robinson
Sep 01, 2009




Ever wonder what it would sound like if you could take the sounds of a slaughterhouse, blend them with the audio of a plane crashing into a sea made of sharp metal objects and then turn the whole thing into music? Well stop wondering because it would sound like The Network a New Hampshire based band that feel to me like what Black Flag would be if they’d come together in 2009 instead of 1981. Their latest album Bishop Kent Manning is a concept record about a corrupt televangelist based on a short story one of the band members wrote. Yep, you add a Pettibone cover and you’ve got Black Flag in the 21st century.

Don’t get me wrong The Network obviously isn’t Black Flag but they have that same darkness looming over what they write. Not in the silly or cliché way metal bands try to manufacture darkness with satanic imagery but in a way that draws in from the poisons that infect all of us. The Network distills their power from the bleeding of those poisons and letting us view the black ooze they leave behind. Taking cues from Rorschach, Deadguy, Black Flag and Negative Approach a band like The Network give me a bit more hope for the future of modern hardcore punk.

Bishop Kent Manning is, like most concept albums, best when listened to from beginning to end. This isn’t a singles record but more an audio assault that works better when it’s delivered as one impenetrable slab of sound. There’s lots of interesting guitar work happening within this slab though, cool harmonies, noise solos and dissonant chords that rattle the spine. The Network knows how to play but they seem more interested in kicking the living hell out of you than impressing you with their skill.

The Network also has a great sense of how dynamics can help with the emotional weight of a song. So many bands seem to think dynamics mean quite-loud-quiet while The Network bring a lot more color to the table both musically and vocally. The vocals and guitars seem to work off of each other instead of being in competition. When the vocals are right in your face the guitars are usually snaking around just below the surface or they’re holding up the base that the vocals are launching from. When the guitars and drums begin to get more chaotic the vocals seem to straighten out and hold the song together. Instead of just screaming over noise riffs The Network really focus on creating songs inside the noise.

The Northeast is a dark and gloomy place, I know, I live there to. It rains, it’s overcast and Father Winter graces us with his presence for eight months out of the year. The Network are a musical manifestation of not only that but also the oddity and general weirdness of the Northeast. Bishop Kent Manning is a loud, noisy, obnoxious and completely engrossing album. This is the type of music that carries the torch of what started with what Greg Ginn and some of the other abrasive punk innovators were doing. I’m amped to see what The Network do next.


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