ALBUM REVIEW: Blóm – Flower Violence | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

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Box Records

Released: 01.05.20

 

 

 

 

 

Since spawning from the ashes of Tough Tits back in 2017, Blóm’s mantra has not so much been about picking up the pieces as hurling them violently into hitherto untapped terrain. Indeed, with Erika Leaman recruited on bass, Helen Walkinshaw shifting to vocals and Liz McDade a perennial rock behind the drums, this trio have proven themselves to be another animal entirely – an incendiary, turbo-charged noise-punk hybrid, among the most radical sounds the North East has produced in many a year.

Although capturing the blunt, visceral force of their live shows was always going to be a tall order, Flower Violence is every bit a testament both to Blóm’s rise and bruising aesthetic. Recorded at Newcastle’s Blank Studios with engineer Sam Grant, the trio’s full-length debut is a raw yet focused aural assault, whose physicality can be felt in each and every note blaring a path through listeners’ canals. Erika’s bass in particular is a constant menace, dispensing brutalising riffs and rumbling feedback with such vigour you can practically feel the amplifiers shake in-studio.

However, for all its bulldozing sonic makeup, it’s lyrically and in its assertions of identity that Flower Violence often hits hardest. Exploring gender, sexuality and mental health through references to the likes of Twin Peaks and Dostoevsky, the record covers a comprehensive thematic scope, with the strongest moments of all rooted in confronting power – and moreover those who’ve abused it. Meat, for instance, conveys its message by way of stark, uncompromising imagery (“Objectify me, I am your piece of meat / I’m boneless, skinless, pre-packed, ready to eat”) yet it’s on the eight-minute semi-improvised sludge-dump Übermensch that cleavers are truly sharpened. “Rot the beds you’ve made, run for your sad little lives / the witches are after your legacy” Helen states; a riot act read amidst dire, foreboding squall. “Rot in the bed you’ve made, the witches aren’t after your lives / We’re coming after your legacy!” With a mindset split between those of revenge fantasists and antagonists fearing poetic justice, it arguably makes for Blóm’s most potent recorded moment to date.

Although darker avenues are scarcely shirked, it’s worth emphasising that Flower Violence is at heart a record espousing positivity: body positivity, sex positivity, mental positivity – or, to paraphrase its closer, simply being kind. It’s a lot to pack within five songs totalling a mere 26 minutes, yet these are numbers fundamentally incapable of standing still. Loaded with nervous intensity, non-conformant structures and seemingly spontaneous switches in tempo, their turbulent battery fuels repeated listens as effectively as administering fierce jabs to the gut. With nary a second put to waste, the result is a powerful, frenetic and above all enthralling debut.

 

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