by Torrey Proto
Boston noisemakers Kal Marks know how to stir up a racket, to put it mildly. Never has that been more apparent than on their latest EP, aptly titled Let the Shit House Burn Down. Impossibly rivaling the intensity of their heralded tinnitus-inducing live shows, the recording finds the trio fully exploring the enormous range of their established sound. The five song release serves as a document of their transformation from humble beginnings as a lo-fi solo project into the gnarled, monolithic beast that the project is today.
The band’s willingness to experiment and indulge in their more extreme tendencies is immediately apparent on the record’s first two tracks “Nu Legs” and “Kimmy” which boast two of vocalist and guitarist Carl Shane’s most guttural vocal performances to date. The spidery guitar strokes on the intro of the opening track screech like they’re signaling an oncoming anxiety attack before giving way to Shane’s distant howls, which almost seem comforting in comparison. “Kimmy” doubles down on the cacophony, with Shane vocally exercising demons with his distinctive low register growl that would make any metal vocalist swoon.
Just as the proceedings threaten to spiral completely into darkness, third track “Heads Been Ringing” teases a lighter approach with Shane’s familiar distinctive singing voice marking a welcome return to melody, followed by a tinkered re-recorded version of their pretty interlude “It’s So Hard to Know How to Say Goodbye.” The placing of these two tracks in contrast to the dissonance of the two before them encapsulates the often grim state of this age before letting in just enough light to provide a sliver of hope. They perfectly set up the slow building exhale of excellent closer “Science is Science” to bring it all home, as Shane croons in falsetto, yells, growls, and screams, all anchored by the elliptical rhythm section of bassist Michael Geacone and drummer Alex Audette. By the song’s conclusion, you can almost feel the three of them collapse in exhaustion, leaving nothing to the imagination.
Despite being a rather short release, Let The Shit House Burn Down is no minor collection of b-sides and throwaways. It stands tall among their already impressive catalog, serving as an exciting gateway into any number of intriguing pathways to explore on their next full length. Knowing Kal Marks, they will likely find new ways to seamlessly blend all of the sounds touched upon here into something that is equal parts exhilarating, terrifying, and strangely beautiful.