Heavy guitar duo Ryan Betschart and Rachel Nakawatase offer up their third album of slow-moving distorted power chords and soundscapes. The most obvious comparison is with Sunn O))), given Shrine Maiden’s grinding drones and ponderous themes. But this pair is distinct sonically, with one or both guitars focused on manipulated feedback and effects. There also are further lines that appear from time to time that are either heavily processed guitar or other instruments. Case in point, A Warning to the Curious is a lush yet foreboding ambient landscape with plenty of subtle details. But this does not imply the absence of oppressive, face-crushing, overdriven madness, of which there is plenty.
Solo guitarist Dylan DiLella hangs out in a similar aural location, using feedback, loops, and other processing to create walls of distorted sound. Human Shield consists of three long (12-15 minute), discordant tracks. In addition to unusual chording, DiLella employs speed picking, effects, and varying pitches that merge into massive sonic assaults. But he is more than just a metal guitarist making a lot of noise. DiLella’s playing is loosely patterned, yet unpredictable, incorporating aspects of free improv. The closest comparison is probably Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, or perhaps the recent solo works of Alvaro Domene. In any event, your ears will be ringing after this one.