The Chicago-based Seb Alvarez, whose band meth. dropped the well-received and richly dynamic LP Mother of Red Light in 2019, is back with a new project. This time, he’s performing solo under the moniker of Virgin Mother, and the new project’s debut EP (named It Is) has been slated for release on May 22, with cassettes available via Tomb Tree Tapes. Get a first listen below to the at times wild new release, which, as the artist himself describes, combines elements of shoegaze, black metal, noise rock, and Discord-era post-hardcore.
The heavy melodies of post-hardcore sometimes figure prominently and function somewhat like a backbone for the release, but from there, Alvarez adds the chaotic rhythms of noise rock and the even more blistering textures of black metal. He drenches the whole creation in shoegaze textures that amp up the ominously uneasy feeling. Tomb Tree Tapes has compared the music to the noise rock band Daughters, and that’s on point — imagine the self-titled, earlier Daughters material, but darker.
On “Hour 87,” the slow heaves of demented-sounding riffing and percussion clash into the listener with a grating, industrial-esque intensity as if some kind of angry creature is stumbling out of a decrepit, abandoned warehouse and baring its teeth at passersby while staggering around. On “Traffic Stop,” which immediately follows, Alvarez launches into melodies that are somewhat less grating and more directly reminiscent of something like post-punk, but the whole arrangement still feels tangibly psychologically uneasy, as if a cord of threat runs through the whole record. The vocals on this EP sound distant and feature off-kilter dynamics that help make the EP’s base feel always shifting, as if the shifting yet melodic soundscapes on this record have suddenly become some kind of dream world in which the ground and walls heave with a menacing pulse as if the environment itself is alive.
The record definitely feels standout. Ominously punching melody and intense industrial-strength haze combine for crescendos into points like the especially intense track “I’ll Never Feel Like Anything,” which spotlights using the elements at hand for a psychologically upending experience.
Alvarez explains: “I really wanted to create something that strayed away from the abrasive nature that is meth and other projects I have done while also staying true to my creative style. These songs are also incredibly personal and autobiographical, which is something I’ve never really tackled before.”
Check out the music below!
Artwork is by Elysia Vertiz and Seb Alvarez, and the record was mixed by Seb and mastered by Derek Allen.
Nab pre-orders for the cassette copies of the release through Tomb Tree Tapes (which is affiliated with Zegema Beach Records). Use this link if you’re in the U.S. and this link if you’re outside of it.