Dug — the new, self-titled, full-length record from the noise rock duo of the same name — proves forceful and electrifying as it unfurls its captivating musical vision of volatile and nearly all-consuming menace. The record sounds like sparks are flying into piles of dried forest debris upon every walloping hit, with the mudslide guitars and earth-cracking drums as a powerful draw here.
The unease emanates from within — although the album often proves entrancingly repetitious, Dug present a volley of jarring rhythmic blasts. They’ve settled into a place of essentially constant strain rather than sticking to anything even slightly more relaxed. It’s methodical, but no less posed to evoke feelings of seeping anxiety, because the riffing and percussion across this record are just profoundly jarring.
Dug often stick to an at least comparatively slow pace, thereby providing space for unsteady contemplation and for the taut tension of their performances to grow into an unwieldy atmosphere. Highlighting their incorporation of heavy sonic ambiance, “Strapped To The Hood Of A Car” begins in part with unsettling tides of formidable feedback, delivering a sense of searing, eye-widening angst. After about eight minutes, shock wave riffs suddenly crash into view, although the overall vibe doesn’t particularly change. Across the record, depending on the exact tempo, the music either lumbers or careens along — but there’s always a sense of growing, fiery devastation.
Moving through this pummeling record feels at times like getting dragged along through pits of muck as the confrontationally tense riffs land in sternly consistent succession. There’s what seems like a thread of flippancy within the music thanks to a consistently disheveled vibe, but instead of that element signifying something like whimsy or light cracking over a hazy, smoke-filled horizon, the sonic trek seems more like exploring the rusted out carnival wreckage referenced in the voiceover that appears on album closer “Loss.” Musically, it’s a gnarled and (metaphorically) grown over portrait of sudden and fanfare-less demise — or, as that song title puts it, loss.
On a scale that’s a bit more grandiose — and the music does get compellingly dramatic at times — the journey of this record could be compared to attempting to scale the side of a cliff as unmitigated sunlight rapidly heats up the looming surroundings, and in this scenario, that rock face would provide the only visible way out of a grimy pit filled with sharp stones and filth. The record pushes existential unrest to a staggering extreme.
The repetition doesn’t allow for easing into the journey — instead, it’s a challenge to the limits of senses of security, ruthlessly extending the tense unrest. In heavier moments, like on the somewhat brisker “Elevator Into The Ground,” the music feels like revving up and somehow slamming into the ground, over and over, turning moments of destructive intensity into a rich sonic experience.
Ultimately, the Dug sound proves intriguingly expansive via their combination of stark intensity and caustic atmosphere. Immersing within this new record’s world sounds like suddenly stepping into a fully-formed and decay-filled scene — and it’s hypnotizing.
Dug by Dug is available now via The Ghost Is Clear Records.