Bristol’s LICE soundtrack our distopian-esque present on their debut LP.

The record takes aim at the puppeteers, the fiends and those who watch on with head-in-the-sand inaction.

Words by Karl Johnson

LICE are a band that I always hoped would get the chance to release a full-length record, I wished for a bold and abrasive representation of their live sound. What I received was a ball of pent-up rage that bites at the sparking edge of socio-political issues facing a nation treading water in the dark. Fittingly it arrives at the start of this strange new decade, however the band’s angst and tension seems to have been heightening for some time.

The record in question is entitled WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear. Over 11 songs and 43 emotionally-pummelling minutes, LICE explore a landscape of industrial-leaning noise, hypnotic grooves and uncompromising post-punk. The atmosphere bends from anxiety-inducing to ambient and desertlike quite freely, with opener Conveyor setting the tone on heaviness straight away. Tracks such as Arbiter and Deluge offer up something instantaneous and sonically mind-altering, using cold space and building instrumentation to devastating effect, complete with vocalist Alastair Shuttleworth’s delivery simmering and stewing over a post-Brexit landscape.

Persuader and album closer Clear are different beasts entirely, finding their groove through a hypnotic and cavernous instrumental sound that creaks and explodes when the weight of the full band get behind it (aided by the vocals of Katy J Pearson and Goat Girl’s Clottie Cream and Holly Hole). Instrumentally LICE shoot to kill and lyrically don’t pull their punches – listen closely to Arbiter for a scathing attack on the deep-seated crooked values of the music industry – the sheer breadth of ideas and experimentation on display throughout the record will reward multiple listens.

LICE aren’t here to bound off into the future without first soundtracking our distopian-esque present. Much more than just an angry stab of the punk stick, WASTELAND: What Ails Our People Is Clear takes aim at the puppeteers, the fiends and the people that watch on with head-in-the-sand inaction. Find the band on Spotify here.