The Men

Leave Home
Sacred Bones Records

While heavy guitar and punk music might not seem like the most sophisticated of genres, it’s a very difficult thing to do quite this well. Rock music has been passing me by a bit of late, so thank god for The Men, whose spectacular new album Leave Home has come out of nowhere and established itself as one of the best records of 2011.

Capturing this sort of intensity on a full length record is a rarity, especially over the course of 40 minutes when each song averages at about five minutes in length. It’s all well and good bashing out 12 songs in 20 minutes and retaining the listener’s attention, but Leave Home is a varied body of work that is exciting from start to finish. Over the course of the record The Men morph their sound into various different guises, drawing influence from the likes of Pissed Jeans, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Shellac and more.

Beginning with a couple of pretty much straight up rock tracks, by the third song it sounds almost as though the album has lost it’s temper. The vocals become shoutier, nastier even, while the instrumentation becomes increasingly more distorted and violent. This results in arguably the album’s standout track, L.A.D.O.C.H., which splits the record into two halves with it’s near incomprehensible rage. Sparse yet emphatic drums keep the song grounded among the surrounding feedback and doom laden guitars, while vocals reach levels of aggression that feel genuinely frightening. “The bringer of everything, nothing is here to stay,” screams vocalist Nick Chiericozzi as the track collapses around him. It’s stirring stuff.

The album’s second half has a few more hooks and is generally a little easier to digest, although just as powerful. Batallie is perhaps the highlight here (below), with its melodic post hardcore format and Guy Piccioto aping vocals. The following Shitting with the Shah meanwhile, is the record’s most restrained moment, working more of a loud/quiet dynamic which offers some much needed relief, albeit covered in thick layers of distortion.

With such a broad range of different sounds on display, there should be something here for anyone with a taste for the heavier genres. Alongside Iceage’s superb debut album New Brigade, this is the proof that there’s still room for exciting, no frills rock music in 2011.

Sleekly Lion.