Review: Jugendwerkhof – Schandwandlung (Marbre Negre, Mar 22)

Berlin harsh noise duo Jugendwerkhof are a project I’ve been following ever since Low Life High Volume put out their debut release Blutstätte ‎in 2018. Their deafening dual assault of “scrap metal, electronics, broken instruments, feedback, [and] voice” offers up equal amounts of the two qualities I appreciate most in this genre: intensity and immersion. Schandwandlung is their longest album yet, and as the first track wastes no time in revealing, it’s also a different beast. Newly heightened emphasis is placed on the percussiveness of the waves of noise the duo generates, and desperate, incoherent howls and shrieks are often foregrounded, giving the music an undeniably metallic edge (both in the stylistic and the textural sense). And that’s just part one. The next segment evolves from tightly orchestrated clatter to a warped, savage stretch of depraved vocalizing, contact mic abuse, and torrents of distortion that resembles the violent death of some horribly mutated beast. Schandwandlung seethes, spits, slices, and smears itself over the remaining half hour, as Jugendwerkhof’s fiendish industrial emissions manifest in forms ranging from plodding, punishing static walls  to roiling, white-hot, hyperactive blasts. A terrifying new release from this great band in an equally terrifying year.