Like their name, the members of AFCGT make an unruly, even clunky noise. And that’s a good thing. Comprising two bands, the A Frames and Climax Golden Twins (hence, the awkward initials in the band name), these guys have come out swinging on their Sub Pop debut. And not swinging at you, or at anything in particular; just swinging, hard and with wild abandon.
The album meshes the sharp-edged crunch of the A Frames with the noir-ish atmosphere of Climax Golden Twins well. But that marriage is a jarring one. The whiskey-soaked scuzz rock of “Black Mark” opens the record and right away assaults you with bass-heavy chord chunks that unravel into grinding atmospherics. It’s aggressive and unflinching, but it’s also the most inviting track on the album.
“Nacht” swirls with menacing noise, while someone with a voice like a wound-down Vincent Price growls in German. “New Punk 27” is an onslaught of grinding metal riffs and crashing drums. And “Reasonalble Nautical” is as frightening a sound as you’ll hear. Its six minutes sound like a field recording Carol Ann took when she got sucked into the TV in Poltergeist.
But if this stuff didn’t work, if the swirling guitar drones didn’t grind against the brash drums so well, if the bass didn’t rumble the very foundation of these songs so convincingly, none of this would matter. “Two Legged Dog” is the band’s crowning achievement on the album and sums up all its unsettling success. Over 10 minutes, feedback and other sonic overtones seeth and sprawl. The notes grow and tangle into a bruising cacophony. But under it, the same riff chugs on insistently, the drums keep their march, the song charges forward even as it battles itself. AFCGT surely sounds self-destructive, but once you realize these guys are in total control of every squeal of noise, that each rapid punch hits something — that’s the moment this shifts from curious experiment to solid, brutal rock album.