Review Summary: Meet my phantoms.
Do me a favour and subscribe, just for a moment and for the sake of conversation, to that most indie movie of ideas that ghosts are just memories. Little bits of ourselves, caught on loop because of a lack of resolution or some other kind of trauma, waiting for closure. Surely, then, a song is the most potent form of ghost. After all, that half-line of some long-ago chorus stuck in your head right now is just a ghost of a melody, caught on loop until you finish the thought, follow the melody line to its conclusion and set it free, right? Aren't we all haunted by the first moment we heard that perfect song, worrying every subsequent visitation is just a lesser echo, a spirit losing its power?
If this half-baked thesis holds any weight, The Sound of Animals Fighting are the conjurers of some of the most persistent ghosts I've come across. The first time I heard "The Heretic", I'm pretty sure my skin actually tingled at the climax - a spectral choir of voices repeating "flesh is heretic, my body is a witch, I am burning it" over and over, caught on loop - but I didn't realise the song would continue to haunt me all my adult life. Little spectres of this elusive, bizarre, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink band's discography follow me to this day - "to the constant Christmas lights"; "secrets and irises open the door"; the way "This Heat" slowly decays from something beautiful to a barely recognisable shadow of itself, on and on. And now comes Apeshit
, either a new conjuration for a fresh haunting or just a gravestone marking the end of something which never really seemed to find closure, a discography with a somewhat abrupt end. These four new phantoms won't haunt like "The Heretic" does, certainly, but they're bold and uninhibited, strange without reservation, exactly what a resurrection of this project needs to be.
doesn't find many fresh sounds, but that's less a fault than an inherent aspect of what is functionally a retrospective release. The EP looks fondly back over all the ground The Sound of Animals Fighting covered in their short time together: the title track recalls Tiger and the Duke
's mathy, Anthony Green-led post-hardcore brew, while "Wolf" and "Duche Das" hearken back to Lover, the Lord Has Left Us...
's chilly Antarctic electronics and haunted poetry readings. Centrepiece and instant highlight "Sharon Tate, Despite Everything" pulls it all together, juggling all three vocalists for a song which feels like it could have come out a day after The Ocean and the Sun
, as close to a summation of this insane band as we're likely to get.
In just under 20 minutes, Apeshit
throws all these things we've heard before into sharp relief: the lightning-fast virtuosity of RX Bandits' core musicians on the instruments, the fury and fire of Anthony Green exorcising his demons, Rich Balling's experimental musings and poetic tendencies, the gorgeous harmonies from Matthew Kelly. We've never heard it all synthesised so perfectly before, which alone is enough to make Apeshit
a worthy trip to the graveyard. Some of your favourite ghosts are back, banging pots and pans in the kitchen to get your attention, and you can sell the house, call the exorcist and get killed in the final act, or just go in and meet them face to face.