“Antiseptic Heart” by Down the Lees
A slightly distorted electric guitar strum opens “Antiseptic Heart,” the new single and music video from rockers Down the Lees, in a haze that will linger over the ensuing sonic storm like a dark cloud over a day that just won’t end. There’s a melancholic mood to this melody that grows stronger and stronger as the drums enter the picture, vocals interspersed between the gentle picking that first commenced the track less than a minute before. Suddenly and without warning, the floodgates open, and a deluge of overdrive pours out of the speakers with impunity. For a moment, it feels like we’re drowning in the beautifully controlled chaos that is the metallic harmony dominating center stage, but this feeling doesn’t last for long. Down the Lees are intent on dragging us across this ocean of emotion and evocative tonality no matter how intense the waves may get, and in the next six and a half minutes of play, they show us just how committed they are to both this task, and more pressingly, the goal of showing us what they can do when they’re firing on all cylinders.
There’s not a lot to the music video for “Antiseptic Heart;” it’s basically a live performance that’s been stylized with a postmodernity that makes every shot look and feel larger than life. This conservative approach taken by the band doesn’t minimize the impact of the narrative in the song – quite the opposite, actually. As we ride the raging riptide of a rhythm into the ebb and flow of grooves, there’s never a moment where we feel like we’re listening to something that doesn’t sync up well with the imagery on our screen (which, to be fair, isn’t always the case in a new rock video, mainstream or otherwise). You can tell that while Down the Lees weren’t overthinking the production process involved in structuring this piece, they were also careful to avoid the pitfalls of making an overly simplistic music video. This is a substance-driven affair, and for a generation that has produced a lot of filler, it couldn’t be arriving at a more appropriate time.
I was only somewhat familiar with Down the Lees before I picked up my own copy of “Antiseptic Heart” just recently, but I’m admittedly hooked on their sound now. They hold nothing back from us in this track, lyrically or instrumentally, and though they dabble in bold experimentations with regards to how they produced the music video for the song, it comes out as one of the leanest and meanest products that they’ve attached their moniker to thus far. There aren’t a lot of bands making the kind of relentlessly distorted rock that these cats are at the moment, but if their style of attack influences even a fraction of their peers moving forward, I think that the underground will be much better for it. 2019 needed a little more brutality amongst melodic heavy groups of note, and in “Antiseptic Heart,” listeners get exactly what they’ve been craving for most, if not all, of the year so far.