In the months running up to the release of Silverbullit’s new album “Arclight”, the Swedish music press has gathered in flocks around the band. Like voyeurs hoping for a peek through the curtains at some sort of deranged peepshow of psychopathology, they’ve resembled spectators gathering around a car crash more than anything else, as if they’ve all been secretly hoping for a breakdown. The myths surrounding the band do of course do their part in encouraging such behaviour – from the selfdestructiveness of their early performances to the much discussed three year hiatus between this and their last album, “Citizen Bird”.
Any doubts of the band’s ability to deliver a worthy follow-up to that album are instantly put to shame by “Arclight”. While “Citizen Bird” was no doubt great, it still lost its grip on me in places. No such things happen with “Arclight”, which is a chaotic yet focused blast of corrosive rock. Silverbullit have expanded their already impressive palette to encompass traces of Joy Division, New Order and body music alongside the ever present Spacemen 3, Stooges and Suicide. They’ve increased the use of electronics without really cutting down on the guitars, which means that there’s simply more of everything here.
The songs thrive amidst these crashes of machines and monotonous, crunching sheets of guitar mania, collisions of pile driving drums and crystal clear synthesizer melodies. The darkness and desperation make for an album that’s almost suffocatingly dense at times, but also manage to induce a furious sort of dark joy. In “Blood”, those feelings that are “calling inside” are crystallised into a song of devastating power, and the collision of DAF, noise and manic rock that is “Once Upon a Time” isn’t far behind. Even those pale in comparison to ”Buddy”, though. A cover of obscure New Zeeland band Snappers, it reaches unprecedented heights of almost psychotic intensity, and has the best organ riff I’ve heard in ages to boot.
The only problem I have with “Arclight” is the tendencies towards inflated pomposity that stain a few tracks. These moments are like spots of mould with faint but unpleasant odours of the less tolerable aspects of the 80’s, which is a shame on an otherwise brilliant album.