Review: Sial – Tari Pemusnah Kuasa (La Vida Es Un Mus, May 1)

Singapore quartet Sial returns to La Vida Es Un Mus for the third time following their 2017 self-titled LP and 2018’s Binasa 7″ to deliver Tari Pemusnah Kuasa, whose title translates to something in the vein of “the revolt dance” or “dance of the power crusher.” Though all of the lyrics are in Malay, it’s one of those albums that is unmistakably political even if the lyrics aren’t intelligible; every deceptively simple power chord riff, drum gallop, and razor-sharp scream drips with anger and indignation. True to Sial’s distinctive style, these eight songs aren’t dizzyingly fast or technical. They instead aim for more of a hypnotic effect a la Raspberry Bulbs, mid-tempo plods drenched in jagged-edged noise with plenty of memorable headbang climaxes and tension release that don’t sacrifice either vitriol or volume. This is best seen in songs like the title track, on which the passionate, delay-fragmented vocal eruptions and excellent production by the one and only Will Killingsworth transform a rudimentary two-note riff into one of the LP’s most infectious moments. Sial are four rusting hinges on a Pandora’s box filled with noise, anger, violence, and pure punk armageddon; the lid constantly strains against them, the annihilatory contents spilling through the cracks and threatening to escape completely while the band stands fast with masterful restraint.