“Dirtminer,” and its inherent sense of grime and mire and dischord, is the template. The opening song on Night Vapor’s 1,000 Miles of Mud — out last week via Corpse Flower and the much-anticipated follow-up to the band’s 2015’s S/T full-length — starts with frontman Albert Hall’s guttural utterances, disorienting fits of aggravation that fall somewhere between a cough and a growl. From there, the rhythm section slithering along occasionally lashes out at the eardrum, and guitar-composer Aaron Myers-Brooks rubber-necked figures flow like so much whiskey down the gullet at the end of a night-bender when no more is necessary to do the trick.
The question isn’t whether 1,000 Miles of Mud is good; it is. The question is what magic this Pittsburgh noise-rock/art-metal/horror-punk quartet has managed to concoct to make other noise-rock outfits around looking utterly flaccid and clueless. And do they doing that without exaggerating the implied conceit — mixing noise-rock thunder with horror-punk leading man antics and PhD compositional flurries.
“Dirtminer,” again, sets the pace in these regards, darting between frenetic exercises from drummer John Roman and bassist Mike Rensland, and more faux-Cubist portraits, where the lines and ropes and threads and little pseudo-linear connections between instruments and time get a little bit more abstract. “Blue Mary,” a single of sorts, is menacing and gritty in all the right ways, with Myers-Brooks’ crystalline figures playing foil to Rensland’s dirgy roar. And forget Hall. Throughout the proceedings, he still simply sounds like a man possessed. And, damn, it suits him.
There are some more straight-forward numbers, where the angularity is cranked down in favor of a crunching refrain. To this end, the band presents “DNR” (for “Do Not Resuscitate”) and the album-closing “Your Daily Bread,” with their palm-muted metal pounding, punchy bass, and ominous Hall trademarks like “I went to San Bernadino and all I got was this lousy exit wound.” (Touche.) “Master Mind” also barks in this tone with stop-and-start bass measures egging on Hall as he growls, “Let’s have a look behind that curtain!”
Those moments, however, are in the minority. Ultimately, the record is more angular and cerebral than 2015’s S/T affair, which was another gem in the growing canon. The new LP doesn’t lurch and lunge at you as much as it sounds like a machine cutting in and out of some kind of cybernetic consciousness. The band nails its sound better it ever has, that’s for sure. Night Vapor know what it does well and initiates it flawlessly. There’s no question about the veracity of their roars. So be it! The perfect soundtrack for your next murder.