Gouge Away
Deep Sage


3.5
great

Review

by Gene Gol-Jonsson CONTRIBUTOR (34 Reviews)
March 24th, 2024 | 15 replies


Release Date: 03/15/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: To scream in anger is to feel with passion.

The trajectory Gouge Away are heading in is a little unexpected for their hardcore leanings and punk roots, but never veering too far off the ground. On Deep Sage the South Florida bog dwellers move one inch at a time but further still from the roaring grungy post-hardcore they have spilled on their previous records. Indeed, this should come as no surprise as for the third time in a row their sound has been undergoing a moderate update in gentleness. On paper this observation might scare off a casual fan hoping for a sharp dose of gnawing heaviness (please note that the album is still rife with such a sound), but the continuous shift is justified. No strangers to being led by emotions and fighting reflex, Gouge Away have always to a degree toyed with softness, either in sound or in themes. Deep Sage therefore presents an understandable need to expand on the influences hitherto explored only tangentially.

Now, bear with me, because I am about to undo most everything I have written in the first paragraph and say that this album is still pathologically punk. Do not take the proclamation of softening as a sign that this is suddenly all lo-fi bedroom pop. Gouge Away are still comfortably intense rogues of the post-hardcore. However, theirs is the brand that shows care and caress amid the noise and the grit. Almost even more so than ever before, the band are engaging lyrically with punk tradition. The opener “Stuck in a Dream” follows the beloved genre staple of repetition. There is barely a stanza of substantive text, yet the cyclical chants set to the no-less cyclical instrumental manage to convince of their weight. See, if you are stuck, you are not moving an inch. Makes sense that even the lyrics would reflect that with their stubborn immobility.

Even Christina Michelle’s vocals seem almost entertained at her own crackling scream. Throughout the album’s run, as most songs culminate with their own respective hymns, Michelle purposefully sings out of tune, or out of tempo, or generally messes with expected system. It becomes an entertaining little character trait to wait and guess which way will her voice shift on a given song. If the climax of a track is the same line repeated ten times, then Christina Michelle will say it a tiny bit differently each time. Not only that, but she will also sing/scream it always in a way that will annoy vocal coaches and professional singers, ie. off and wrong. Just to *** with you.

All that taken into account, the repetition can sometimes be to the album’s detriment. “Overwatering” sure sounds like a song whose repetition could have benefited from some increase in intensity. It sure does seem to be building up to something, but the release arrives just a little short of breath, just a little off the mark. The repetition then becomes less a progression but a pacing obstacle. One that remains ahold throughout “No Release” (apt name) and is finally put to rest on the devastating “The Sharpening” (apt name x2). Here also is the perfect space to talk about the aforementioned mildness in manner lining the album. See, there are these moments of lowered tempo and energy sprinkled across the eleven tracks, often they take up entire songs like “A Welcome Change” (apt title x3), “Newtau”, and “Dallas” obtain a shoegaze, 90s indie, and grunge cloaking. Indeed, those leanings are present on many songs on Deep Sage, but only those three make them front and central. These provide a much needed breathing room amid the otherwise manic noise, but they also signal a deliberate statement of maturity.

“Look, we can do punk and be adults about it.”

Not so true all the time. Again, “Overwatering” and “No Release” use the less abrasive non-noisy sound ineffectively, because the band’s song-writing still mulishly sits in the weeds of punk and post-hardcore. Take the title track, whose progression and increasing tension is a lot like “Overwatering”, but that song cleverly uses noisy breaks and fuzzy production to create some impactful momentum for the repetition to really hit home. The latter track simply does not have that.

Alright, alright, this is being unnecessarily negative on something that even at its lowest delivers a moving, rowdy, boisterous punk et al. ride with a plethora of obvious but nowadays seldom heard influences creatively. Deep Sage is Gouge Away with a budget to show all their power. In that it certainly accomplishes its task. Here is a band comfortable in their sound and peaking in their comfort zone, branching out ever so carefully to new territories they now have the means and skill to accomplish. They also still stay true to the menacing roots, making for the most expansive, expensive, and exhaustive release in their discography.



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user ratings (40)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2024


6557 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i hope one low-effort rev will not get my new Contrib badge taken away



i miss the POS / NEG feature





listen here: https://gougeawayfl.bandcamp.com/album/deep-sage

calmrose
March 24th 2024


6756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

finally we have a gouge away review



band rules



album rules

someone
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2024


6557 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i might go back and review Burnt Sugar, so we have a better review than this. my fave of theirs probably

Wildcardbitchesss
March 24th 2024


11593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

these guys have been gone forever, I didn’t even know this dropped! Loved Dies, think it’s one of the best punk records of the last decade, wasn’t too hot on Burnt Sugar but I’ll for sure have to give this a listen.

dedex
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2024


12774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

great read Gene! digging this so far

Relinquished
March 25th 2024


48698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea idk if I feel the review 100%



check out the song explanations they did in an interview recently

Pajolero
March 25th 2024


1414 Comments


Love to see them try different things even if it doesn't always work, but yeah to me this band is at their best when they go HARD. Excited to see them this summer — they're touring with Angel Du$t and Teenage Wrist, which should be an absolute banger of a show.

PumpBoffBag
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2024


1512 Comments


Yeah this sounds sick. Heard about this band a lot but not jumped on it yet- I’ll consider this my cue

PumpBoffBag
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2024


1512 Comments


tf my rating’s seem to think I’ve listened to Burnt Sugar and enjoyed it??? Huh. Time to revisit in that case!

bloc
March 25th 2024


69925 Comments


Agreed with the rating, good stuff

grannypantys
March 27th 2024


2570 Comments


love the band name

worth at least a few jams

tectactoe
March 27th 2024


7267 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album, loving this one.

Ectier
March 28th 2024


2560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fucking slaps

Taxt
April 7th 2024


1605 Comments


Wishing the ratio of up-tempo bangers to slower songs was less weighted toward the latter, still a great record though.

Wildcardbitchesss
April 7th 2024


11593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ya, enough and exhibit: closed are prob my favorite songs they’ve ever made. They don’t have anything that goes that hard on either of these last two records



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