“Wasteland: What Ails Our People Is Clear”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Where to start with this one? Maybe just boil it down to one word: weird. Once is not enough...LICE is weird, WEIRD, WEIRD! If you’re looking for something totally off the wall and over the top non-conformist, this Bristol unit might suffice. WARNING! This can in no ways be considered a metal album and even though the word “punk” pops up in the press sheet, that is also inadequate.

It’s a noisy trip through a surreal soundscape, the aural equivalent of the Miro-esque cover image. The band (not to be confused with a black metal band of the same name) have created their own instrument called the “intonarumori” which is a kind of percussion contraption that delivers a wide variety of clicks, clacks and clanks. That’s coupled with weird, watery guitar that can sometimes get quite noisy and very “Britpop” vocals that tell a complex, avant-garde story that is a “satire about a satire”. These guys consider themselves artists and they speak about art here. Some tunes like “Conveyor”, “Impostor”, “Deluge” are noisy and industrial, with harsh, jagged and mechanical sounds. Others are more dream-like and almost new wavey, with some syrupy synth and sweet vocals, reaching an apex with last song “Clear” which was sugary on the verge of bubblegum pop. Nothing resembling conventional song structure is used, which I’m sure is quite intentional.

It’s on the pretentious side for sure, but there is something refreshingly bonkers about it. If we must label it, how about “industrial art-punk”? That fits LICE as well as anything else I can think of. You’re going to hate this with a passion if you don’t like avant-garde music. But if you do, these pests will get under your skin.