Goldsmith, the latest release from Chicago’s Escape Is Not Freedom, sounds like something that could have been released by Amphetamine Reptile Records. For those not familiar with that label, Amphetamine Reptile Records (often shortened to AmRep) released some truly uncompromising, noisy records from bands like Hammerhead and Cows, and have some pretty notable alumni, such as Unsane, Helmet, and Today Is The Day. Had they formed in the late 80s or early 90s, Escape Is Not Freedom surely would have been a perfect fit for AmRep, with their jagged riffs and aggressive, punk-influenced vocals.
Escape Is Not Freedom manage to take the melody of Smashing Pumpkins and couple it with the heavier edge of The Melvins, creating an intense sludge rock sound reminiscent of bands like Fight Amp and Whores. The guitars on Goldsmith are super fuzzed out, as can be heard on songs like “Night Light” and “Sodium,” and have an audible hiss, which gives the music an abrasive edge, even when the riffs are fairly melodic. The drums are big, but not overproduced, and the bass gives enough punch in the low-end to really give the riffs a solid dose of heaviness. Guest vocals by Emily Jancetic give an even bigger melodic boost on “Annul,” “Dispossess,” and “Harbinger,” with “Dispossess” in particularly being a moody, shoegaze-influenced track that gets a bit heavier towards the end, similar to Made Out Of Babies.
The production on Goldsmith has a heavy garage rock influence, with guitars allowed to feedback, and a bit of reverb on everything, giving the record an ambience usually heard only on live albums. This tone actually suits the music pretty well, sounding like it would give you a bad case of tinnitus in person (ALWAYS a good thing in an album). Though Escape Is Not Freedom clearly have a lot of influences from the 90s, they manage to not sound dated, and are very skilled at bringing those influences into a modern setting. If you like AmRep, or sludgy noise rock in general, pick up a copy of Goldsmith.