Ulterior – Kempers Heads

Ulterior - Kempers Heads

Ulterior - Kempers Heads

When’s the last time you considered industrial music?

Don’t think too long – it’s probably been a while. Quite alright, because you may have a reason for mental resurrection. Ulterior is a leather-and-drum machines London group and Kempers Heads, released on the same label that launched A Place to Bury Strangers, collects their first two UK-only singles and assorted extras such as music videos, photos, and remixes by Zlaya, Ade Fenton, and A.R.E. Weapons.

At their best, Ulterior come across as Suicide shifted into overdrive, with apoplectic guitar noise draped over top like a more aggro Jesus and Mary Chain or Spacemen 3. Vocalist Honey (another reminder of JAMC?) waxes nihilistic over ceaseless beats and reverb-y effects: “We’re living in nothing / Or nothing’s living in us” is yowled across “The Death of Everything”‘s dismal four-four reality along with countless other melancholy proclamations. In other tracks contained in the half-hour run time, we get fire, weapons, and sex, not to mention a glimpse at the grotesque with the line, “Inside your mouth is another mouth.”

But I wouldn’t go to Kempers Heads seeking philosophical counseling; the words, despite being so often confrontational, come off more as adornment than nucleus, meant rather to advance the visceral heft of the music rather than communicate their own messages. That’s acceptable, I’d say. Listened loudly enough (too low and you could mistake these tunes for second-rate ring tones), the group is a singular physical experience, the pulverizing rhythms and disorienting guitar noise entertaining the role of a sinister tag team in your speakers. Ulterior rekindle the notion brought forth by the forebears of industrial that music should confront and challenge the audience, though they do so within a realm of listenability that keeps the compositions from getting obnoxious. Such striking balance, clothed in black…