Record of the Week: Brain Tourniquet: An Expression in Pain LP

Brain Tourniquet: An Expression in Pain 12” (Iron Lung Records) While I don’t listen to too much contemporary power violence, I was a big fan of Brain Tourniquet’s first two EPs. Their debut 12”, though, is something else, a record so distinctive and powerful that it transcends that microgenre. An Expression of Pain has a gritty recording that might remind you of the OG power violence classics and the songs feature blastbeats and sludgy slow parts, but everything about the way Brain Tourniquet deploys those elements is inventive and electric. That’s true from the record’s first seconds, when the leadoff track, “Little Children Working,” sounds like hell opening up and demons escaping, reminding me of early Swans with its relentless industrial rhythm. Much of An Expression of Pain recalls Black Flag when they were at their slowest and most musically adventurous, bending Sabbath’s lumbering rhythms against the fulcrum of free jazz’s deliberate evaporation of tonality. It is music that will make your skin crawl. Even when Brain Tourniquet indulges in power violence’s familiar tempo dynamics, they subvert convention, and there isn’t a moment on this record that feels cliche. That’s certainly true on the expansive, album-closing title track, whose 11 minutes feel like an aimless, sun-blistered stumble through the desert… it may leave you wondering whether you hallucinated that bass solo or it really happened. A real masterpiece, and exactly the forward-thinking yet brutal hardcore we want from Iron Lung Records.

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