Translating roughly as The Death Of Meaning, Salford stalwarts Gnod‘s latest is already something approaching old news, seeing as the band have already recorded another album and apparently moved on. In years to come, there will almost certainly be a period in most band’s recorded history as their lockdown/covid album, and La Mort Du Sens will, to some degree, represent Gnod’s token to that moment in time.
Recorded pre-lockdown in 2019 but mixed during 2020, this album straddles the freedom that seems to be something of a distant memory and the closed off paranoia that accompanied covid cabin fever. Essentially recorded as a live album, with longtime live sound guru Raikes Parade, La Mort Du Sens attempts to capture, or at least initially attempted to capture, the sheer sonic brutality and chaos of Gnod in their pomp.
It’s possible to hear the fearsome hive mind of the band working throughout the album. Only two of the songs were ready at the start of the recording process with the rest being fleshed out on the fly. There’s certainly a live feel and that “locked in” sense of telepathy at play here, with each of the songs rumbling along with the kind of aggression and fuzzy focus that has characterised Gnod over the years. It’s the closest the band have come so far to capturing the heady abandon of their live performances where their songs seem to become living, breathing behemoths that might just veer from their pre-ordained/as written path and tear your arms off. And your legs. Just for good measure.
Despite the album undoubtedly possessing that feral excitement, the process of mixing fell to Raikes and Chris Haslam, who attempted to steer the album in the way that they imagined the band as a collective would have wanted it to sound. To that end, it’s hard not to wish for an album that captured that collective feel in its entirety, with everyone represented at every step of the album’s genesis. Yet the sheer lumbering, rumbling power contained on these tracks suggests that the pair weren’t far away from the collective’s vision.
Regardless of how the finished product came about and how close it sails to the original concept, La Mort Du Sens is a phenomenally heavy work from start to finish. Repetition, quite often the key to Gnod’s output, is still fundamental, but so too is nuance. Closing track Giro Day grinds its way through 12 minutes of chaos, all of it circling around what appears to be a solitary idea. But tiny changes, in drum pattern, guitar licks and noise make it feel like being trapped in a kaleidoscope fashioned by heavy industry. Back at the start, Regimental plays a similar trick, although it’s a far lighter and less chaotic affair. This is saying something because when the song kicks in fully, it punches hard right in the gut. Repetitively and relentlessly.
Pink Champagne Blues is probably the closest Gnod get to a traditional song structure on the album, and it rattles along with the same foot to the floor rush that Motörhead‘s finest moments possessed. The persistent pounding stomp of Town the manages to capture a slow-motion punch up between Swans and The Fall in a inner-city pub car park. If all this sounds somewhat bleak, then at times, yes it is, but Gnod’s trump card is that they make everything sound so effortlessly exhilarating. And that is meaning enough to give La Mort Du Sens a breathless listen.