Plate Six - Battle Hymns For The New Republic
Matt Harrold 09/03/2007
You'd think that seeing as Plate Six's David Hickox plays bass for Dan Sartain that 'Battle Hymns For The New Republic' would be a quite country affair. Well you'd be wrong. Probably about as wrong as Kevin Rowland's ill-fated cross dressing comeback attempt to show his more feminine side. Although even first listen around you could hardly accuse Plate Six's of sounding like they're their the sensitive types. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, this three-piece skirt with a mixture of post-rock and post-punk with enough indie flowing through their blood stream to stop them from out-right alienating the casual listener.
'Battle Hyms For The New Republic' is, however, far from an easy listen and it takes a fair few plays to be able to sink into their murky world of twisting rifts and lo-fi production. Again and again though patience will pay off with richly textured tracks along the lines of 'As The Pinson Turns' which builds up in a Fugzai inspired intensity to leave a listener feeling both drained and elated. Though in part to do with David Hickox's vocal approximation of Ian Mackaye's own legendary vocal abilities, enabling Hickox to stretch his vocals to their angriest and most intense, all the whilst sounding like they're about to tear themselves into a million bloody pieces.
Inter-spread amongst the album's main tracks are the hymns, the album's own little instrumentals breaking up the intensity into more manageable chunks. Coming in different flavours from the Sonic Youth inspired feedback drench 'Hymn For Shedding Rust' to the spiralling and twisting guitars inter-playing in 'Hymn Of The Majuscule', they are worthy of an instrumental album in their own rights.
It's a credit to the band that the lack of bass player goes almost unnoticed. A lot of the slack being taken up by Brad Davis furious pounding on the drums and the reverb drenched guitar alt-rock racket, which swings between being a wall of sound too an almost duvet cover warmth in which you snuggle under. Ultimately Plate Six have an album which shows their potential but never quite becomes as accessible as it promises it could be, nor does it scream orginality, borrowing heavily from the aforementioned Fuzai as well as the likes of The Jesus Lizard. What it does offer though is the potential of being an underground cult status hit, which in years to come you can proudly say you got into Plate Six before they hit the big time.