Release date: June 9, 2023 | Relapse Records | Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram
Kylie Minogue, Dannii Minogue, Jason Donovan, Nick Cave and Courtney Barnett. These are some of the names that have risen from the Australian city of Melbourne over the decades, one of the foremost hubs of the arts in the country. Away from the bright lights of the city, emerging somewhere from the murky depths of the famously brown Yarra River come Geld, a fittingly grimy and dirty hardcore band. Onto their third album Currency//Castration, they have moved on from the DIY independent labels of Iron Lung Records and Static Shock Records to the metal juggernaut of Relapse Records, with their sonic palette expanding as much as their ability to win hearts and minds they hope. Geld have followed new label mates Candy from independent hardcore labels to Relapse while using the opportunity to expand their sonic palate, without diving quite so far into the deep end as they did on Heaven is Here. Opening up their sound as a band, the band certainly hints at much more to come. Guitarist Cormac Ó Síocháin states:
‘Inertia disgusts us. All our favorite bands are the ones where from one record to the next the change in sound makes sense, but if you listen to two records that are three or four releases apart from one another you stop and think, ‘how the fuck did we get here?’ With this initial trilogy of LPs, it feels like we’ve established a substantive foundation to build from.’
The overall sound world that Geld are beginning to create now though, feels as if we’re crawling back into the sludge of our unevolved ancestors, yet because we want to. We’re going back having learned, understood and decided that this is the place to go for the betterment of the species. Our minds and sonic palettes have expanded and we want nothing more than to continue moving away from the glossy natured mush we see regularly. While the industrial influences of interlude "Across a Broad Plain" and the intriguingly acoustic "Castration" expand upon the vitriolic nature of much of the album, there are signs throughout of a band pushing their limits.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves; in 2023 Geld know what they do best and that is well and truly rip in. Right from the pulsing intro "Currency", Geld make it pretty clear they’re going straight for the jugular and for the most part stick to what they do best. The opening snarls of "Chained to a Gate" do little to convince the listener otherwise and the organized assault on the senses continues for most of the senses. The lineage of the Geld sound can much be traced to a lot of classic Japanese hardcore such as Gauze, with a healthy amount of the police punching d-beat of Bastard and metallic stylings of Death Side. Unlike many bands with a monochrome colour palette and a faux Japanese name though, there is much more to scratch away at.
I hear a much more punk attack mixed in, with more expansive post-hardcore leanings for good measure. Australia is more than familiar with this though with Melbourne compatriots Punter and the brilliant Sydney band Oily Boys also bringing a scuzzy punk assault. Geld fit in with their outsider style and classic-meets-modern punk assault, but are set aside by both their experimentation and their more brazen assault on the senses. Tracks like the "Fog of War" leave no stone unturned in their attempt to deliver maximum riffs and beats in a 2-minute song. Especially with these more chaotic songs, the band explains that:
‘Currency // Castration unfurls like a series of infinite reflections breaking down into fractal chaos—it becomes increasingly unclear whether one's suffering comes from the outside world, or from the confines of one's own skull. The only catharsis Geld offers for this confusion is the kind found in staring oneself down face to face, escaping through a mirror of abyssal ugliness.’
The bleak world view of Geld seeps through all cracks of quotes like this and a look beyond just the grimy sounds coming out of your speakers reveals much murkier depths. In even sub-1-minute tracks like "Gas of Corruption", the band set their sights on the political structures which breed ‘gas-corruption-lies’ as the ‘monolithic forces have soiled our hearts’. Looking inwards and things only get yet more dark on tracks like "Secret Prison" which ‘examines the insurmountable contradiction and despair of being trapped in one's own consciousness’, honing in on the internal turmoil with vague yet pointed lines like ‘these endless halls, a winding space, the end of it all’ bring this cheerful album to its end .
Currency//Castration is a fittingly gruesome hardcore punk album for the modern world. By balancing the sounds of classic bands like Gauze with today's underground leaders with their own experimentation and personality taking a leading role, they have concocted a stew of dinginess. I do strangely find myself listening to their second LP Beyond The Floor and finding this offering more polished by comparison, but they have certainly spent the time growing as a band to bring in new sounds and look into the future. As a basement dweller, I hope they don't stray too far from this because the world could do with more hellish soundscapes like Currency//Castration.Relapse Records Geld, Kylie Minogue Dannii Minogue Jason Donovan Nick Cave Courtney Barnett Geld Iron Lung Records Static Shock Records Relapse Records Geld Candy Relapse Geld Geld Geld Geld Gauze Bastard Death Side Punter Oily Boys Geld Geld Geld Gauze