Balaclavas, Rusted Shut

It's tempting to refer to the brooding punk of Balaclavas' two EPs as goth, but the band lacks proper goth's showiness, melodrama and fashion sense. They better recall the razor's edge of darkness walked by Joy Division, though without the flavor of imitation that has marked so many recent bands of that ilk. Balaclavas' music is often slower, rarely danceable, drenched with reverb and deliriously creepy. But when they want to rock, they do so with a raw vengeance that contrasts nicely with their usual restraint. Also playing Friday is Rusted Shut, locally notorious for their confrontational and punishingly noisy performances, and nationally renowned for their all-redline-all-the-time 2004 release Rehab. Where Balaclavas value atmosphere and forbearance, Rusted Shut value nothing but crushing noise. The lack of self-consciousness in their music's unhinged violence would be charming if it were better distinguished from actual violence.

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Daniel Mee