It’s rare that you get a noise-rock band that you can just simply define as ‘noise’. The only use of the adjective ‘rock’ to describe such a band is based purely on the fact they have a standard ‘rock’ set up and sound. To make a superficial reference, I suppose Japanese bands like Melt Banana or Boredoms would come to mind. That’s the kind of territory that we’re in when listening to London’s outsider, noise-laden 72%. Their debut How Is This Going To Get Any Better? was released on cassette by Hominid Sounds back in 2019, but is now available on vinyl for the first time via Human Worth, a DIY label entirely dedicated to reissuing local hardcore/noise acts for charitable causes, and Squirrelled Away Records.
When I say that 72% are a noise band I do mean ‘noise’. The entirety of How Is This Going To Get Any Better? almost sounds like it was improvised on the spot. The second we hit play we’re bombarded with spidery, jagged and jangled guitar lines, contorted around half-time rolling rudiments; the process is hypnotic, disjointed but retains a subtle melody. High pitched screeches and constant sound wails are conjured among two guitarists that are battling for supremacy. The influence of free form jazz is clear enough, but if we speak about the album and band as a whole, this piece of work is heavy, a little hateful but most of all menacing.
Menacing is probably the most applicable word with reference to 72%. Within the world of death and black metal there are plenty of acts that claim to sound ‘evil’ or ‘dark’ but creating something that has violent menace around it without self-fashioning toward any aesthetic, or specific genre is something that is truly impressive. Yet this is what 72% have achieved.Within the space of little under 40 minutes, this band have presented an almost genre-less body of work but have conveyed a sound more spiteful than many paint-by-number acts you can round up from the countless sub-genres of metal and hardcore. It’s Only A Problem If It’s A Problem For Me, accompanied by a frantic ticking, leaves you initially with a sense of panic that then turns to dread. This is music that, at first, confuses and then stalks.
As I’ve stated, the lack of any definable genre or aesthetic around 72% is something that immediately attracts me to this band. There’s nothing here that I can pin down. However, as cosmetic as this may sound, the song titles thought up have a familiar quality. As a young lad and now adult, I loved bands like The Blood Brothers and The Locust, but in a juvenile sense, I always got a kick out of their song titles (example: The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like To See You In His Office, Plague Soundscapes, The Locust). Thus, I enjoy such titles as Mate, No One Will Ever Love You, Brutish Giant, and most relatable of all; Failure Is Absolutely Possible. This might be an irrelevant point but it’s something that I find helps make this album. Many bands come up with humorous or weird titles, but often there’s no connection between the sound and the words printed on the LP sleeve. However, the intricate and intense sound that 72% have created allows these titles to take on a form of ferocity and spite all of their own.
Explorations in jazz, noise, hardcore, and sounds that could only have been made by machines…
Thinking about influences, or comparisons has been a difficult task when presented with something that sounds as original as 72%. Above I’ve made minor connections between something like Melt Banana or Boredoms, but I feel like this isn’t good enough. Also, comparing this band to the obvious noise-rock juggernauts of Unsane or Scratch Acid is also too simplistic and unfitting. I’m sure that these artists are found within the melting pot of 72%’s writing influences, but I don’t hear much of it.
Regarding tone, at times throughout this album I’ve felt the density of Floor, alongside the weird and challenging sounds of Oxbow. I don’t hear any stoner/doom influences, I can’t find anything from the traditional canons of metal and hardcore. 72% have created something entirely unique. This uniqueness is compounded by the fact that almost the entire album is instrumental. Only two tracks Mate, No One Will Ever Love You and Brutish Giant have vocals. With that being said, these few seconds of human speech are completely fitting to everything else found here: screeching and desperate.
Nearing the end of this marathon we’re met with a chaotic stop/start medley that sounds like it could be something from the Midwest hardcore archives of the 90s (think Botch). By now your ears probably feel like they’re burning up on re-entry to normality as we’re finally graced with the sound of a human voice again while the album disintegrates. I can only imagine what this sounds like live.
72%’s How Is This Going To Get Any Better? is a journey through metallic bewilderment. There’s so much going on it’s incredibly hard to keep up at times. Explorations in jazz, noise, hardcore, and sounds that could only have been made by machines lead us to this disjointed dispatch from a world not our own. No matter how challenging, heavy, and bizarre, there’s a careful, subtle melody found throughout, whether you realise it or not.
I missed this band in 2019 and really wish I was more tuned in. If you missed it too, now is the chance to pick up a vinyl copy through Human Worth in collaboration with Squirrelled Away Records and a percentage of proceeds being donated to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). In times like these, organisations that raise awareness to suicide are needed more than ever. So, if you want your ear canals twisted and also want to help make a difference, pick up 72%’s How Is This Going To Get Any Better?
Scribed by: Mark Louth