Downard and their Permanent Damage are yet another part of my most recent catchphrase. The great 2020 catch up! Now, don’t fret, this isn’t some ill-fated trip down memory lane or some needless profundity denoting to generic trite. No, it’s my questionable attempt, failure and then follow-up attempt to again catch up with 2020’s releases and those that landed in the Ear Nutrition inbox. One such release, as stated, was Downard and their Permanent Damage.
Noise Rock is perhaps a little misunderstood and to be honest, that suits the genre just fine. The general gist of the Hardcore Punk derivative and Post-Hardcore adjacent genre is one of gratuitous noise, questionable clarity and slow lumbering, distorted progression. Downard, with their Stoner Rock applicability set through similarly gratuitous noise, have up until now very much embodied this through, Services and Solutions, Talk Shop and Agony City. But what of Permanent Damage?
‘Years’ is a lumbering mass that only moves as fast as needed. As the opener hefts its gargantuan limbs, subdued, distant vocals depict a troubled personal reality as an onset gloom subtly envelops your own. ‘Years’ finally reaches its distorted boiling point post-3:02 where the band’s Noise Rock is no longer in check. ‘Years’ was an intentional build-up towards an outburst of Stoner Rock-riffage beset with the foundational Noise. Akin to many in this field, the band reverberate, riff and repeat and yet it’s still just as satisfying as something “new”.
‘Years’ is the enabler of ‘Hell Roundabout’. Track two refines the Noise-foundation into a still discordant but warped Post-Hardcore-lead that invokes nothing but gyration. Post-groove, the band further these eerie characteristics brought to the legacy of heavy and progressive music in an unsettling mass of dynamic and tempo changes via what I would assume to be a rather well-crafted pedal-board. ‘Hell Roundabout’ is testament to the ironically unrestrained nature of the two-piece band. ‘Scrappage Is Back’ retains the Post-Hardcore quirks but backtracks and relies on the unified simplicity of gratuitous riffs in a pleasing contrast the former. Downard’s track-list thus far has been meticulously crafted. In fact, as the album jolts forward, this not only becomes more obvious but also speaks of the skill of two-piece.
‘Scrappage Is Back’ is still rife with spasmodic energy but prefers the raw approach as pushes closer to the band’s Noise-abandon. ‘Bastards Of Disaster’ lyrically paints a semi-cryptic dystopian mass of ill-feeling towards systems of controls. The band’s subdued vocals push on over Downard-brand reverberating groove before an unexpectedly melodic and soaring injection in some sort of dismally-toned hope. The band then return to their foreboding, doomed-transit over these questionable tracks before closing with further riff-lead, contrastingly layered and soaring melody. Downard are exhausting.
‘Frog Wellington’ starts slow and stripped in a manner you know won’t last. And yet it does. The two-piece sit amongst of echo chamber of subtle changing dynamic unto the halfway-point before a mass of delay and feedback acts as the bridge. Downard then toast their chosen Noise Rock and it’s lineage from Hardcore Punk. ‘Chicken Shit Lodge’ furthers this Noise-Hardcore hybrid with a melodic tendency carried from both previous work and that of Permanent Damage thus far. Track six is key to its modest 1:30 duration. This raucous blast embodies what was only hinted at previously yet does so in a manner exponentially more welcome.
‘New Wig Town’ changes pace and style yet again as Permanent Damage spits at your waiting for this album to fuck-up. That is until 1:30 where another Hardcore/Post-Hardcore charge further compartmentalises the records second half-continuity. ‘Hartcliffe Save Point’, again, because why-ever not, injects Permanent Damage with another deviation. Downard are aware of the abject exhaustion they force upon their listeners. The again, and I can’t use this word enough, foreboding tone of the down-trodden ebb that is the instrumental and penultimate effort, is both pleasing and crucial to the release. Finally, Downard allow you to rest.
‘All The Way Down The River’ motions a Post-Rock affiliation that was only ever marginally on the cards post-‘Hartcliffe Save Point’. Downard, of course, approaches this via their inherent distorted-fuzz. They close a full-length via a move that regarding the opening notes of ‘Years’, was near-wholly unexpected. On Permanent Damage, the band have considerably doubled-down on the heavier, unrefined nature of Noise Rock but maintained much of the Post-Hardcore so rife through their sound. The band are both increasingly as unrefined and unrestrained as they are refined and calculated. Permanent Damage is an unambiguously tightly-knit and unequivocally required album within the contemporary progressive heavy-music scene.
Downard and their Permanent Damage, succinctly put, beckons, envelops, exhausts, eviscerates, lulls and repeats via Bristol.