Review: Millsted – Harlem

You may not have heard of them before, you may not know that they broke apart as a band for three years because of personal turmoil between band members and you might not have listened to their two previous releases (Umm….Yea in 2008 and The Great Adventures of the Gold Red Rocket in 2009), but I’m here to tell you that none of that matters! If you’re going to do anything tonight, apart from maybe getting some shut-eye, it should be checking out Harlem by noise-punk-hardcore outfit Millsted. With this 8 track LP, Millsted roar back to life and have exploded onto my radar because of their ‘fuck this shit’ attitude and bone-crunching, cacophonous sound. Seriously, dude, check them out.

So who are they? Millsted are a bunch of guys from New York, all with different backgrounds and influences to smash into this stellar release. Individually they are vocalist Kelvin Uffré, guitarists Christopher Carambot and Robert Dumé, bassist Samuel Fernandez and drummer Peter Belolli. Their influences are varied, from John Coltrane and Otis Redding to Black Flag and The Flaming Lips, but on this record a key inspiration is early 80’s punk. Regardless of their disparate influences, for the whole band the music is about soul, passion, brutal honesty and going against the norm.

In Harlem, Millsted succeed where so many others fail, really capturing the raw feeling and natural sound of a live show in a recording. The songs are meant to push you to the edge, they’re meant to make you feel uncomfortable; above all the sound and lyrical content show you that everything is not okay. Millsted capture the angst and anger other bands can only hint at, they pack it up and through HARLEM they unleash it on your ears in a furiously short burst (all 8 tracks together clock in at under half an hour – this is punk after all).

The LP rages into life with the instrumental ‘Perfume’. Belolli pummels along on the drums, driving the noise towards its grating conclusion, before second track ‘Coyote’ rips its way out. In its two-and-a-half minute run time all hell breaks loose in exactly the punkish way you would expect. We’re treated to relentless drums, rip-your-throat-out riffs and an unremitting assault from Uffré’s shredding vocals.

Millsted’s strength is in just how much hardcore they slam out in the package of punk, but they take the time to prove they aren’t a one trick pony in ‘Seafoam Lovers’. When I say they take the time, they take a long time, nine whole minutes, about 6 punk tracks worth of time! In fact, of all the eight songs on Harlem, the psychedelic wanderings of ‘Seafoam Lovers’ takes up about a third of the running time and they’re ballsy to put it there. They restrain themselves and surprise listeners by using their musical prowess to sculpt something of mystery and beauty, not just mind-smashing fury. It’s hypnotic rather than psychotic, but remains twisted and distorted, in tune with the whole record while sounding completely different.

Treat yourself, ‘Coyote’ is available as a free download over at Soundcloud, and Harlem is also available on all popular download and streaming sites (Itunes, Amazon, Spotify).

4.5 out of 5 high fives!

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