To greater and lesser degrees, every track on the French band Wheelfall’s new album gets your head in a hammer lock and seizes control of your involuntary muscle reflexes. Remaining motionless as you listen is not an option. To greater and lesser degrees, every track is also unerringly bleak and disturbing. It’s the kind of black-hearted music that seems simultaneously to be clawing in a blood frenzy to get at your throat while also clubbing you senseless with a cold, machine-like determination and precision.
In reflecting on the album experience, “violent”, “hallucinatory”, “insane”, and “oppressive” are among the words that spring to mind. “Massively heavy” and “compelling” are other words that seem appropriate. The warmth of human kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and love — all of that has been brutally banished from Wheelfall’s musical realm, but man, what they’re doing here is electrifying. The Atrocity Reports keeps you on the edge of your seat, all nerves firing. Sometimes it feels like the world is coming apart, or at least your own sanity, but the allure is nonetheless (and perhaps perversely) irresistible.