By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Which leads us, finally, to Total Sonic Annihilation. Total Sonic Annihilation, the name of Death by Audio's original pedal and the headline on A Place to Bury Strangers' MySpace page, may seem like tongue-in-cheek hyperbole until you hear the band, at which point it merely becomes an accurate description of its sound.
A Place to Bury Strangers, which comprised recordings from throughout the early years of the group's career and was released in the summer of 2007, wastes no time in announcing its agenda; the very first sound is a blast of painful high-frequency fuzz. By the time you've frantically turned down the volume, these blasts have given way to rumbling bass, robotic drums and a much gentler, chiming guitar line — yes, Ackermann can do pretty, too. The rest of the album consists largely of the outfit taking its already noisy forebears and giving them the Death by Audio treatment: "Don't Think Lover" could be one of the best songs the Jesus and Mary Chain never recorded; "To Fix the Gash in Your Head" recalls Ministry and Broken-era Nine Inch Nails with its industrial drum machines and drill-like guitars; the stunning "The Falling Sun"— the album's highlight — is like the bombed-out remains of a Phil Spector ballad. And closer "Ocean," with its rubbery, churning bass line and epic sense of gloom, would be a dead ringer for an outtake from the Cure's Disintegration were it not for the layers and layers of fuzz, some of which can out-harsh Merzbow.
Initially pressed in a run of only 500 copies by tiny Boston imprint Killer Pimp, A Place to Bury Strangers received a Best New Music tag from indie kingmakers Pitchfork upon its release, and things took off from there. Earlier this year, industrial overlord/patron of awesome bands Trent Reznor tapped the band to open for Nine Inch Nails, and now it's on its first national headlining tour. New material, including a live album that's already been recorded, is forthcoming, but the bandmembers have to slow down first. When the act makes it home in December, Ackermann and company are planning to work toward finishing up a new album.
In the meantime, they'll be out happily weakening the foundations of clubs in North America and Europe, putting that whole no-earplugs, no-ear-damage notion to the test.