Published Sep 24, 2019Few bands are able to combine the artful bludgeoning of Sumac with the vulnerability of Tom Waits — but then again, Kal Marks are like few other bands. Ten-year veterans of the Boston DIY scene, their ability to constantly evolve their particular brand of sludgy punk has made them pioneers and mainstays.
The ferocious EP Let The Shit House Burn Down sees the unlikely pairing of Russian Circles' chugging breakdowns combine with the catchy sensibility of gloomy folk-star Nick Cave. It never feels jarring; rather, it's more like swimming in charismatic sonic sludge.
Taking the rawer, screechier parts of their previous LP, Universal Care, and adding the catchy tenderness of 2016's Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies, the band have never sounded this good, as they unleash an aggressive assault on both the climate catastrophe and personal demons. Kal Marks' ability to find the sweet spot where folk and metal intertwine — a demilitarized zone most of us thought didn't exist — will leave you screaming and crying in the same chorus. "Nu Legs" is the standout here, capturing the emotional swings of hope to despair in mostly guttural yelps.
Kal Marks' decade-long career has had many peaks, but Let the Shit House Burn Down could be the highest — so far. (Exploding in Sound)