Band: The St. Pierre Snake Invasion
Label: Church Road Records
Release date: 21 April 2023
Sounds like: An abundance of writhing serpents.
It’s difficult to stare at this album cover without my eyes feeling funny.
Anyone expecting Caprice Enchante mark 2, you’re in for a shock. That’s not to say that Galore is stylistically completely different, but it is in a more subtle, intrinsic way. Three albums into their 12-year career (and a handful of EPs), Bristol’s The St. Pierre Snake Invasion sound as if they are wrenching themselves apart and hastily shovelling the guts back in, whilst sipping a cuppa and wryly observing the carnage. Yeah, it’s an odd one.
Opening track Kracked Velvet is littered with staggering, angular guitars and stuttering percussion, that delves into short-sharp blasts of boiling rage, before lurching back into this slamming post-hardcore onslaught, with random interjections of those odd-ball time signatures, with an ending that builds and builds to this whistling crescendo, before abruptly cutting short and closing with an elongated whine. Wow. Great use of finger clicks about halfway through as well.
The next track, Midas, takes things in a different direction – built predominantly around keys, synth and what sound like electronic drums, it brings to mind the haunted melancholy of Nine Inch Nails and the warm embrace of LCD Soundsystem in places. Frontman Damien Sayell, intones this almost dream-like vocal delivery with the repetition of “I don’t feel…” and it’s such a departure from the chaos that normally surrounds the sound of this band and it really fucking works. I mean, there’s still a feeling of general unease – it’s still as intimidating as their more raucous, punk rock sound – but just done in a different way.
Submechano, the first single, is the agitation, the crunching guitars, the rending, caustic caterwaul of noise you would expect – the guitars sound so disjointed, they’re like limbs popping out of sockets, sickening to hear, but weirdly satisfying when it all clicks back into place. It’s an absolute rush of barely contained adrenaline that explodes forth with punishing aggression, these odd-ball time signatures, almost math-metal in execution, but kept all in line by Sayell’s rasping vocal lead, that swings from this sullen croon to this raw, hacking indignation. Credit to the layers of sound on this track as well, that’s must be a keyboard they’ve horribly de-tuned and slammed in under these punishing guitars and the extra percussion is *chefs kiss*.
The title track employs the “building wall of noise” mantra, with Sayell’s almost hypnotic vocal repetition, which is somewhat buried and muffled by the layers of guitars and feedback, making it even more sinister when he begins to scream blue murder, especially in the closing seconds where the band decide to go hell-for-leather, and absolutely batter the shit out of their instruments. Aisling Whiting of Sang Froid joins Sayell on this, adding depth and an almost ethereal component to proceedings and works to expertly rein in the fire from the frontman, creating this wonderfully odd and devious-sounding duet.
With Sayell featuring on Sugar Horse‘s Disco Loadout from the Waterloo Teeth EP they released last year, it’s only right that SH frontman, Ashley Tubb, should guest on this, and Galore is richer for it. Tubb’s blood-curdling vocal screams can be heard on the noisy apocalypse that is To Sleep Well – and holy shit, is there a lot going on here. The really uplifting keyboard flourishes, for one thing, are brilliant over the slabs of punishing, Cherubs-esque noise-rock. I mean, from what I can gather, it’s actually quite a sweet song, lyrically, all about Sayell growing as a person – and they’ve masterfully married these moments of genuine care, love and tenderness with this uncompromising heaviness and I have to mention it again, those fucking keyboards are just on another level of greatness.
Every Sun is the closest we get to something off of Caprice Enchante, it’s all Every Time I Die guitar flails, The Chariot-esque time signatures, distorted vocal barks, mangled bass tones and thunderous drumming. This one-two slam with the slovenly The Overlook, which burns with dark, sinister energy through its stabbing, fire-forged noise-metal attack, with Sayell roaring about “escaping to the unhallowed ground….” work excellently together, and you’re almost welcoming the taunt graveness of Apex Prey, featuring Whiting again, adding her voice to Sayell’s almost soothing vocal drawl, backed by this solemn piano and tense percussion.
That There’s Fighting Talk is a bizarre cross between the electronic hum of Holy Fuck (wonderful use of electronics on this, it has to be said) and the rage of Botch coupled with this stabbing beatdown of chopped-up riffs, dance-rock beats and elements of swirling, chaotic mathcore leaking out from the edges. “I talk about violence too much” intones Sayell in an almost robotic, dead chant which suits the tone of the track, which sounds like someone instructed AI to write a post-punk song in the style of Aphex Twin. Absolutely love the closing moments of this, the chewed-up synth lines are so wonderfully deranged and damaged sounding, giving this the feel of totally pulling itself apart, but managing to keep the wheels on – just about.
When I Pray To Liars rears its complex and frankly devastating head to round off Galore, you know that TSPSI has left the best to last. This song is fucking phenomenal – the rage and emotion that it spews are so cathartic and venting, it feels like you are expunging some kind of demonic entity from your body. You will want to destroy things at the start, it spews this grinding, explosive, purging blast of energy and it’s frankly, wonderful. There’s a real sombre depth to this in places though, alongside Sayell’s emotive vocals, the inclusion of the synths (which by the way, play a huge part in my enjoyment of this record, and are used to just the right amount) makes me feel equal amounts of hope, despair, anguish and resolution due to the way they fucking bang all the way through this with such ferocity.
Like Caprice Enchante before it, Galore is a staggering piece of work – The St. Pierre Snake Invasion has excelled in crafting something that boils with burning love and infectious energy and finds new ways to challenge, disrupt and revolutionise the sound of heavy music. Get on this immediately if you want to hear one of the best albums of 2023 – a fantastic achievement and an incredible return, genuinely cannot recommend this enough.
You can pre-order Galore by The St. Pierre Snake Invasion from bandcamp or buy direct from Church Road Records. Treat yourself to one of the most interesting, diverse, chaotic and creative rock albums of 2023.