Microwave – ‘Death Is A Warm Blanket’

By Andy Joice

Progression of sound is a tricky thing. Take Linkin Park, for example – back in the early 2000s, Hybrid Theory and Meteora were genre-defining. By the time they had dropped their fourth album, though, they had developed and evolved their sound to an almost unrecognisable point, much to the annoyance of many fans. Then, there are other bands whose records gradually become stale and uninventive; suffice to say, catching that middle ground between radically different and generic repetition is difficult.

So when Microwave released first single ‘Carry’ from their third album ‘Death Is A Warm Blanket’, it would’ve been easy to assume it would follow the same tropes as sophomore album ‘Much Love’. You know what they say about assumptions, though.

While ‘Carry’ is arguably their most melodious track, its use as the lead single is genius. It’s a comforting throwback to ‘Much Love’, yet its darker tone sets the stall for an angry and invasive album. With a catchy chorus of “do you murder me in your lucid dreams?/Oh god, I hope you do/And you’ll plan it out in real life someday soon”, there’s a definite theme of helplessness that resonates throughout and sets the scene for their latest release.

From the outset, it’s a far meatier record. As ‘Leather Daddy’ opens the album with the gentle sound of an acoustic guitar, it quickly builds into the frenetic chaos of distortion, soaring vocals and intricate melodies. Without giving you a chance to breathe, it’s quickly followed by ‘Float To The Top’ – menacing, chunky and plenty of growling vocals from Nathan Hardy. The coursing basslines and rousing drum patterns drive the track to nastiness and it’s the first time we see the real potential Microwave have when playing with a heavier sound.

There’s temporary respite midway through the record with the acoustic ‘Love’s Will Tear Us Apart’, an achingly tender track that Hardy practically whispers over. A very welcome break from their new post-hardcore sound, it’s one that confirms they can still write beautifully light melodies and match them vocally.

What is abundantly clear is that, whilst they’ve found a heavier sound that suits them, they’ve adapted bits and pieces from across multiple genres. ‘DIAWB’ has some real moments of early Queens Of The Stone Age, whereas ‘Pull channels Thrice, with Hardy’s vocals being able to bounce between clean and unclean in a similarly effortless way as Dustin Kensrue, with the elegance it has in building from such a soft intro to a head-pounding third act adding to the Thrice comparisons.

In an era where overly clean production is on the rise, it’s refreshing for Microwave to be heading the opposite direction. Fuzzy, discordant, and overwhelmingly brutal at points, it’s a far cry from most other sounds littering the market. With each track running seamlessly into the next, its endlessness a loop of rage-inducing, powerfully frantic energy.

Honest, harrowing and sometimes heart-breaking, ‘Death Is A Warm Blanket’ is Hardy at his most destructive as he pulls the world apart stitch by stitch. Much like screaming from the top of a rooftop, its cathartic nature is as much a physical and emotional release for the listener as it was for the band. And sometimes, that’s exactly what’s needed.

ANDY JOICE

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