There’s a certain strain of agitated music — whether stop-on-a-dime punk or expansive noise — that operates from the opinion of the world being, well, kind of a mess. The Detroit trio Wolf Eyes, freshly inked to Jack White’s Third Man label, states its place in the planet’s fractured firmament in the title of its latest album, and expands on that withered outlook with six tracks that slog through the planet’s muck. Vocalist Nathan Young serves as tour guide through a planet inevitably decaying, his seen-too-much snarl anchoring the music’s plumbing of the world’s murkiest pits. These explorations twist and shape-shift and, at times, turn up surprises: Electronics that sound like they’re cackling emerge from the muck of “T.O.D.D.”; feedback slices through the dourly tense “Asbestos Youth”; woodwinds float through the grim haze of “Cynthia Vortex AKA Trip Memory Illness,” which stutters to a halt the way a buffering audio stream might. But the blown-out thrash of “Enemy Ladder” gets the feeling of gloom across just as well as the album’s more chaotic tracks. Wolf Eyes’ travels through the depths of noise and despair sound like they end up at a place where the gates read “Abandon All Hope,” but the group’s ability to put across its artistic vision with such totality should inspire at least a flicker of optimism.
ESSENTIAL “Asbestos Youth”
Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.