A Culture Of Killing: Dissipation of Clouds, The Barrier 12"

A Culture Of Killing: Dissipation of Clouds, The Barrier 12"

Tags: · 20s · anarcho · anarcho-punk · hcpmf · italy
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Time for another prime dose of potent, chorus-drenched anarcho-punk from one of its finest modern exponents: A Culture Of Killing return with their third album, bigger and bolder than before with a foreboding sense of deathrock gloom dialed all the way up beyond 11. Their usual array of nods are all present and correct (The Mob, Zounds, The Cure), but this time everything feels… grander? More fully realised? Impressive, given their first two albums have been hoovered up and hailed by those in the know, but maybe we should banish any lingering doubts that the mysterious Italian band might be moving beyond merely echoing the classics and closer to creating a new benchmark for the genre.

Look, all of this is a very fancy way of saying that ACOK are pretty fucking great and no one else can touch ‘em right now when it comes to this sort of goth-tinged post-punk. New instrumentation, new ways of relating to each other as a band, new ways of grabbing your attention as a listener and making you want to press the record grooves into your brain and use your nerve endings as a stylus. From new wave-styled Burundi beats and furious call-and-response vocals to dubbed-out grooves, there are new influences that are more than welcome in the band’s sound, but the songs themselves are their finest thus far (‘2 Years’ and ‘The Last Train Home’ are simply magical). It says a lot about this LP that it’ll hold its own with the output of both Crass Records and 4AD; it’s a strong step forward that’ll win ‘em new fans and embolden existing ones to say things like ‘best band in the world right now’ and ‘sell your home to buy a copy if you have to’. Especially if you don’t technically own your home. You get the idea.

Is there a Crass-shaped hole in your life that’s been empty since you wore out your copy of ‘Penis Envy’? An itch that only the purest of peace punk can scratch? This is the record for you. I don’t use the word ‘essential’ much but… oh, well, I’ve given the game away there, haven’t I? Get it, get it now.

Our take: Dissipation of Clouds, The Barrier is the third album from this Italian band, and while their earlier releases leaned on an anarcho-punk meets death rock aesthetic, this new one widens the scope. The first track, “Yamuna,” is an ethereal song with the bassist employing an uncharacteristically light touch, the airy mix and delicate textures reminding me of Cocteau Twins. While “The Last Train Home” sounds like it’s ripped straight from Three Imaginary Boys, throughout the record A Culture of Killing displays a willingness to expand their sound in interesting new directions, whether it’s the xylophone on “Tangled,” the Chameleons-esque plucked guitar in “Limits,” or the unexpected reggae rhythms in “One Last Drop to Moscow.” But while much of the music is unexpectedly pop, the shouted, dual-vocalist approach ensures it’s never too far from Zounds or Lost Cherrees. I’m a sucker for anarcho bands who veered away from hardcore and toward poppier and arty sounds, and A Culture of Killing captures the spirit of possibility and the accessibility of that stuff without losing the urgency it needs to still feel like punk.