Geld- Currency // Castration (Album Review)

June 13, 2023


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Australian hardcore punk doesn’t get mentioned quite as often as bands from other parts of the world, but there are plenty of noteworthy artists that are able to deliver the same in your face vocals and intense riffs.  Melbourne’s Geld is another great example, as they’ve offered up a noisy and aggressive take on hardcore and D-beat that takes influence from completely opposite ends of the world.  Album number three, Currency // Castration peels back some of the layers of feedback and harsher guitar tones in favor of a sound that emphasizes just a bit more melody but runs everything through a psychotic filter.  It’s a different approach for this band that showcases their ability to switch things up and experiment, but there’s some substance underneath the stylistic changes that make Currency // Castration worth your time.

The change in sound is immediately noticeable, as the drums and guitars on Beyond the Floor sounded weaponized with how much oomph they had and brought to mind a number of Japanese hardcore punk bands alongside more recent groups like Napalm Raid and 偏執症者 [Paranoid]Currency // Castration still hits hard, but how it gets there is very different.  Opener “Currency” shows off a band that’s lost a little bit of the weightier impact in favor of a rawer, noisier sound where the guitar, bass, and drums sometimes blur together into a furious and deranged mixture.  It has that bounciness and thinner sound that gives off an earlier punk or even garage rock tone, but there’s still an abrasiveness to the guitar leads that give off a metallic sheen.  This approach makes Geld stand out a bit more, as rather than simply pulling off the G.I.S.M. or Death Side sound and crossing it with some additional American or European influences, the songs on this album emphasize different aspects of manic hardcore punk that hit hard and fast.  Tracks like “The Fix Is In” let the bass dominate a bit more as the guitar goes wild with psychedelic freakouts, making for material that sometimes feels like a fever dream more than a straightforward take on the genre.  Others lighten things up a bit and let a little melody seep in, giving off a slightly bouncier tone before the abrasiveness comes back in to punch you in the face.  These psychedelic freak-outs leave a lasting impression, and they combine well with the frantic and fast hardcore punk, giving off a Hawkwind goes Discharge kind of vibe.  Geld also gives listener some hints of industrial/power electronics on the interlude “Across a Broad Plane” and the end of “Castration”, and I’d be curious if the band is planning to do more with this side of their sound in the future as it fits the darker, metallic edges of their sound.  Admittedly with the way that the production likes to mash the guitar and bass together some of the songs blur together and it can be hard to tell the flurry of wild riffing apart but given the twenty-two-minute run time that makes this an easy album to take in from beginning to end.

Vocals in hardcore punk can run the entire spectrum of screams, yells, and growls, but Geld’s singer Al Smith goes for a raspy scream/snarl that seems to be oriented towards having as much bite as possible.  His performance matches the instrumentals one for one in intensity, coming in short bursts that have an unhinged quality to them and smack you in the face with each word.  The rawness of the production does make them occasionally blend in with everything else and form this frantic, noisy jumble, but that appears to be a deliberate decision on Geld’s part and it makes Smith jump out even more when he does break free.  There’s a good amount of variation to the performance too, as you’ll hear a few gang vocal yells and dips into other sides of punk alongside the more extreme pitches.

At the core of Geld’s third album is still the same angry hardcore punk that spans a wide range of influences from Japan, Europe, and the US.  But they’ve made some notable tweaks to the production that remove some of the weight and chest thumping drums in favor of a rawer, noisier affair that pulls in a considerable amount of psychedelic madness and some of garage rock’s earlier abrasiveness.  Some of these guitar freak-outs and the blur of instrumentation results in songs that blend together a bit, but this is still a wild ride that fans of everything punk should enjoy taking.  It does feel like Geld is also just scratching the surface when it comes to some of these influences though, and I’m excited to see where they take things next.  Currency // Castration is available from Relapse Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg