As I’m writing this, the UK is surviving a heatwave of metal-melting proportions. Now, by most standards, our heatwave is puny and lightweight. But, for us pasty-faced pasty-eating tea-sipping fools this is hot. SWELTERING! I’m constantly sat in a state of stale perspiration, slowly drooping into a senseless stupor. My brain is constantly throbbing. My skin has turned a reddish-spotty-brown, the pale illness of winter skin a distant dream. I also commute to work, packed onto small yellow boxes that cart me to my pit of despair. Now, as my brain throbs, my teats leak, my skin melts and my eyes itch, I yearn for something brutal enough to give direction to my anger. Well, Secret Cutter has come at the right time. Their grind/sludge combination is the perfect musical representation of the pains of a pasty Brit during an extended heatwave. Quantum Eraser is a steaming heap of oppressive, throbbing vitriol, formed in the spicy bowels of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. If you want sweltering, metal-melting, sweat-inducing music, Quantum Eraser is for you.
The smothering, oppressive atmosphere lingers. It’s hard to believe that this is a three-piece with no bass guitar! Quantum Eraser rarely lets up. It’s short, angry and it knows exactly what it wants and needs to do. The album has a repetitive core, a throb the carries through with unapologetic denseness. This is where the sludge element comes into play. Riffs, though fast and fleeting, carry a sludge-doom heaviness. Passages are less sharp and abrasive and more deep and ominous. The occasional moment of semi-slowness occurs (take the balls-to-the-other-dimension heavy “Mantis” as a great example) but for the most part, these songs fizz at a dizzying constancy.
Secret Cutter have a claustrophobic sound, it’s like the sludge and grind have been merged together and forced to fit inside a clearly too small container. Vocals are shrieked and shouted, similar to J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer, and add a less robotic, more human element to the machine-like throb of the instrumentals. The pulsating vibrations of the guitars are alluring. They carry a tone like a thousand dirty, mangled engines revving at one time. Take “Doormat” as a prime example of this. It surges and flickers for two-and-a-half minutes with a filthy, befouled tone, enhanced by the metallic clang of cymbals and the ear-piercing screams of vocalist Ekim. Although riffs can become monotonous at times, this feeling is overwritten by the ugly tone which sears its track marks into the mind like a ghost rider.
Thankfully, there’s enough variety in a short space of time for Quantum Eraser to succeed. Moments of flickering drumming, strange ambient background noise and feedback, and mathcore-esque tempo changes combine to send songs in dizzying directions. “The 58-second “Vow of Obedience” is a strangely-catchy industrial escapade featuring instrumentation that sounds like its melting into oblivion. Continuing this, the 23-second “Delayed Choice” features guitars that morph into saxophones and back again. There’s a flavor of a gritter, grindier, less technical Messhugah to be unearthed here. But, for the most part, Secret Cutter dwell within the realms of pummeling, punishing angst. “Avalanche” is self-explanatory, really. It collapses in on itself with dismantling force – feedback ricochets from the throbbing guitars, schizophrenic snare drumming, and increasingly manic dual vocals.
For me, there’s not quite enough variety here though. The band doesn’t need to sacrifice the claustrophobic violence that makes the album succeed at its core, but they could continue or develop the moments of weirdness found in tracks like “Vow of Obedience” and “Delayed Choice.” Secret Cutter achieve what I imagine they set out to achieve: to annihilate the listener’s ear-drums. The record has a deep, dirty sound that doesn’t let up. It doesn’t try anything drastically different or unique, but what it does it does well. It may not make my end of year list, and it may not feature in rotation a lot, but as a whole this is a solid second record.