Black Beach have been serving us scuzzy, distortion drenched rock since 2014’s Play Loud, Die Vol. 1 in addition to a three-song EP release prior to that. From their debut full-length, Shallow Creatures, to a live album, Black Beach have remained active in Boston’s grungy DIY scene pumping out tunes meant to be dialed past 10.
Play Loud, Die Vol. 1 is true to its name in the volume (re: not the size) of the entire EP. “Rats” is as energetic as it is loud, full of Ryan Nicholson’s rollicking percussion that keeps Steven Insasi’s reverb-soaked vocals afloat. The EP dials it back at certain points, favoring a heavy-handed metal-informed sound carried by simple, yet introspective lyrics.
But Black Beach have grown into themselves on the EP’s follow-up, Play Loud, Die Vol. 2. While parts of it sound like a call and response with the first iteration, a majority of the EP features greater attention to production value, thanks to bassist Ben Semeta, and a sharper tongue. “I’ve grown tired. I’ve grown,” Insasi screams over a chaotic yet calculated chord progression. The balance between lyrics and instrumentation helps alleviate some of the heaviness that accompanies music in the post-punk canon, and Black Beach utilizes this well on Play Loud, Die Vol. 2.
“Nothing’s Golden” begins subdued, with only Insasi’s vocals warbling over a fuzzy mix of guitar and bass. Drums gradually trickle in, building the verse toward the chorus as Insasi continues in a near monotone that befits the title of the song. That is, until he unleashes a guttural, throaty wail: “I don’t know what to believe.”
Play Loud, Die Vol. 2. is a departure from the grittier roots in Vol. 1. Black Beach have undoubtedly refined the edge to their sound to a much sharper point — where Vol. 1 was all about grunginess, Vol. 2 is an exploration of fractured sound: one is messy, but cohesive, while the other is precise and measured.
Listen to Play Loud, Die Vol. 2 below and be sure to catch Black Beach at Starlab Fest on Saturday.
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