Record of the Week: Rigorous Institution: Survival 7"
Rigorous Institution: Survival 12” (Roach Leg) I flipped out over Rigorous Institution’s previous EP, The Coming of the Terror. It was one of my favorite records of 2019, but as much as I loved that record, Survival blows it out of the water. “Survival” is one of the most exciting punk songs I’ve heard in years, and I’ll be surprised if a band comes out with a track I love more any time soon. The first thing you’ll notice when you listen is the vocals, which are among the most charismatic in modern punk. The singer sounds cartoony at first, but when he delivers lines like “a hole to dig to keep the rain off your head” and “someone to stay awake while you sleep” it’s bone-chilling, like that moment when a horror movie goes from goofy to terrifying. The riff behind this rant is a woozy, metallic ramble that sounds like the person playing it is stumbling through the hellscape being described, but then the song takes a dramatic turn into a fast part with cacophonous punches. Suddenly the vibe is frantic, off-balance, then out of nowhere the synth comes in with what I can only describe as THE PERFECT NOTE. It’s not the note I expected, but it’s perfect, and every time I hear it I feel weightless for a split-second. It sounds like some ancient tribe is blowing a conch shell and all the warriors are shouting “it’s a good day to die!” in their native language. While nothing could measure up to “Survival,” “Despotism” ensures I’ll always flip this record over as it features more incredible vocals, haunting synth, and bass work worthy of a Subhumans record. It feels unsatisfying to describe this record, because it’s not about the constituent elements, as great as those are; it’s about the way they come together into something magical. This is the reason I spend so much of my time listening to music: because it can be this great.