[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
They are always managing to find new ways to surprise, those Pauly brothers. Since putting out ‘Rosary’ in 2007, Parade Ground have kept a low profile; sporadic live dates and re-issues have been the offerings but all along I have no doubt they were working on this. I’m going to go on the assumption that those reading this are already fans and do not require any background, if this isn’t you then go to their website or discogs for further enlightenment.
I got this about a week ago and it didn’t take long to fathom what they were up to this time around. Contained within the confines of a nicely anonymous black cassette ‘Sanctuary’ truly is one. If you’re wearied by the endless barrage of media overkill and pop culture infesting just about every last millimeter of breathing space look into what they’ve done. You’ll be pleased to hear that Parade Ground have opted to continue moving away from the accessible sound which defined them back in the day. If there’s a difference to be heard between this and their last one it is simple: contrast.
The vocals are higher in the mix, the music more detailed; between both of these divisive elements is the region of creative space which this pair and this pair alone occupy. Some pieces are mangled noises with operatic singing and little else, there are others which confront their audience relentlessly with finely honed, incisive percussive loops. Strange quirks abound in what at first comes across as simplistic; when ‘Sanctuary’ clicks it locks into place and never lets go. “Europe Side Down” for some reason or other appears again, perhaps to provide continuity.
Other bands have varying lineups and phases… Parade Ground have ages. Beauty, horror and the juxtaposition between the two remain their calling card.
This is indeed further out than ‘Rosary’ ever got but it isn’t in the way you’d expect: the atmospheres are heavier than lead in this place while those merciless rhythms hammer away at your defenses until all that remains of them are ruins. Bizarrely, they have never had a higher profile than they do now which is barely a blip on the map of the underground. No compromises were made with this material and from the opening cascade of “Table” right through to the last note of “Cry Christ” this is an album made by artists for those who don’t give a damn about trends and prefer surprise to safety.
Guitars become belt sanders on this release, the dust of preconception ricocheting this way and that while what feels like a noose tightens around the neck of populism. There is intensity enough here to burn through steel, stone and skin; theirs is a chaotic landscape, once more they have all the charm of shrapnel raining down.