Dystopian Sounds and Apocalyptic Noise: GHLOW’s Debut ‘Slash and Burn’

GHLOW’s searing debut album is a refreshing genre bend of electro-noise, offering listeners a genre-defying take on industrial rock and a counterculture attitude.

Russian-Swedish duo GHLOW volunteers their dazzlingly dark electro-punk noise-rock debut album to listeners on the 2nd of April in a dynamic fashion. Slash and Burn is an 8 track album with 3 brand-new, unheard tracks, bringing a genre-defying blend of electronic and industrial music to their hungry fanbase. 

Having discovered a sudden and overwhelming love for industrial and noise rock over the past year of lockdown, no better album could have fallen into my lap. GHLOW’s debut album Slash and Burn engulf its listeners in their take on Nine Inch Nails’ droning sounds of powerful guitar tones while offering their own brand of burning electro-noise which will more than satisfy any interest in the genre, while surely bringing in some avid newcomers.

Headed by Russian-Swedish duo Emille de Blanche and Nikolay Evdokimov, the record doesn’t sound like a group of teenagers wanting to dabble with a little industrial music. Both members are established musicians in their own right; De Blanche is the violinist child prodigy to the underground punk legend Evdokimov, who in his early years blew stages alight to the backdrop of the fall of the Soviet Union. Finding influence in their early musicianship years through bands such as the Dead Kennedys and The Prodigy – both influences which GHLOW wear on their sleeves – it’s clear from the offset the direction in which the duo wanted to take their new project.

“We both wanted to experiment. There had always been weird, genre-bending stuff we’d wanted to try out in previous bands, but we couldn’t get whoever we’d been working with to go with it. Now, we could just put all of that away and follow our instincts.”

– Emille de Blanche

GHLOW blends in those influences cleanly and effectively, without evoking the feeling that both styles had just been shoehorned in together. It’s a skill to be able to work in different styles so vivaciously without missing the mark on either, and GHLOW flexes their talent in that regard on this project. When considering earlier releases from the duo, we are also able to see Evdokimov refining his production and beats as well. While they may have lacked the punchy edge in previous cuts such as Crystal Memoriz, Evdokimov works in a new production style that carries throughout the record, tying the entire project together both thematically and musically. 

However, the newly explored production open the record for more criticism. While the experimentation within is what draws listeners into the record, the production is more likely to lose you. Because of its focus on mastering the guitars in tune with the more electronic instruments in the mix, the album forgoes the grander sound more common within electropunk, or even noise rock, for that matter. This leaves the album from song 4 onwards begging for a bit of variety, or maybe even the smallest production switch up. 

Whilst the record does occasionally fall short of variety, the vocals and instrumentation save it from ever becoming bland. De Blanche’s Lingua Ignota-Esque vocal style may take some getting used to but it’s more than worth it once you get there. Having acclimatised to her tonality, you can truly appreciate it for its ethereal nature, floating above the mix of harsh noise brought by Evdokimov, to the tone and lyricism reminiscent of its punk influences. The lyrics – which serve as the focal point to many of the tracks – could be read as a scathing remark on Swedish politics, but they’re open-ended enough to leave much to the audience’s interpretation. GHLOW’s words are guttural, they are violent and revolutionary, and they drive the listener to imprint their thoughts and feelings on the song, instead of being dragged along by its lack of tact – a skill not often found in modern punk.

“There’s a rawness and a violence to Slash and Burn, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, It’s about starting again. You might be chopping things down, or setting fire to something, but that’s a reset – something positive comes out of the flames.”

– Emille De Blanche

GHLOW’s debut album is something to be marvelled at in terms of its musicality and drive to create something truly unique. With perhaps a more derivative production than one could wish for, the album fails to reach the grandeur that it could have possibly attained, leaving the audience asking for more variety within the mix. Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant 8 track start-off point that is exciting and brimming with both personality and opportunity towards the future. 

Slash and Burn is out on all streaming platforms on the 2nd of April. Can’t wait till then? Enjoy the titular track below! Out now on all streaming platforms!

Media and quotes courtesy of Major Press.

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