Russian Baths-Penance-Album Review

By: Nerhys Hall

Brooklyn-based noise rockers Russian Baths recently released their debut EP Penance. Though only four songs and a runtime of a little over thirteen minutes, this EP sounds fantastic. Russian Baths has an 80’s post-punk/grunge sound that’s dark and reminds me of the Cure in their early years.

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Penance’s four songs sound cohesive together but are all different enough to interest the listener from the first to the final notes. Beginning with “Slenderman”, an urgent-sounding track that starts with a simple drum line and driving bass before gradually building layer after layer. The track features a hazy female voice that gives the song a spooky quality. Song three, “Poolhouse”, also has a slight creepiness about it and features female vocals. It’s  slower tempo with a hazy dreaminess to it and includes two repeated contrasting parts. During the majority of the vocals, a simple drum line accompanied by guitar play underneath the lyrics, and then become more intense during the instrumental sections.

Contrasting the first and third songs, are the second and fourth. Song two, “What’s Your Basement” has a heavier, grungier sound than “Slenderman” and features male vocals. It begins with feedback and has an overall distorted sound. Similarly, “Black Cross”, the final song on the EP has moments of pure aggression with a driving, repeated bass line and urgent-sounding guitar. The male voice floats over top, sounding distant and there are a few really cool moments where there’s a break in the aggression with only a simple drum line and low voices being heard.

Russian Bath’s debut EP Penance is an album you definitely want to check out, especially if you enjoy darker post-punk sounds.

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