By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
On the back cover of Constantly Terrified, the latest LP from Lexington, Kentucky's Hair Police, is a rendering of the skull of some strange lupine beast, below which is the phrase "Gnarly Times." Throughout the well-named album's four tracks, the ear-grating trio convinces us that the times we live in (or at least the microcosm created by the record's relentless 40-minute onslaught) are most certainly that: gnarly.
The first track, "Rattlers Echo," spends nearly five minutes stewing in a tangibly evil echo chamber filled with the clattering of metal and the throbbing of malfunctioning (or merely rewired) electronics, until the noise is suddenly and (depending on your audio device's volume) heart-stoppingly intensified by the addition of vocalist Mike Connelly's disintegrating larynx. This unleashes a maelstrom of insane feedback, painful oscillators, and exploding condenser microphones.
At their first rehearsals in a barn outside Lexington, Hair Police weren't exactly the local flavor, or probable weekly bar rockers. This is not to say, however, that the self-admittedly ridiculously named noisesters are alone in their boundary-melting sonic waves. For instance, the band has previously recorded for Minneapolis-based label Freedom From, which was home to like-minded noise thrashers Sightings. Terrified also hints at Ann Arbor's equipment-manipulating noise band, Wolf Eyes (whom Hair Police shared opening slots with on last summer's Sonic Youth tour following the collapse of Lollapalooza). Fittingly, Wolf Eyes horn player/electronics man John Olson plays saxophone on Terrified's title track.
Within the LP's hypnotic drones, numerous climactic stabs, and the subsequent twisting of knives, the trio proves that they are scary, heavy, ruthless, and brutal enough to go toe-to-toe (or eardrum-to-eardrum) with any of their aforementioned peers in the noise rock scene. If nothing else, Terrified proves that Hair Police are worthy of song titles like "My Skull Is My Face," quite possibly the best-named track of 2005.