Emerging out of Berlin and combining noise rock structures with industrial misanthropy and proto-goth atmospheres, Noj’s debut LP serves as a cold splash of battery acid to the face of a post-punk scene rife with acts content to let a few bass guitar pedals serve as a substitute for substance or songwriting. Venting the same sort of spleen as classic acts like Big Black, Ausgang, or Blackouts (or These New Puritans or All Your Sisters if you’d prefer more recent comparisons), Waxing Moon is a punishing but deeply satisfying and considered statement of arrival.
While a certain portion of Waxing Moon can be linked to the tradition of ‘angular’ or ‘challenging’ post-punk, it’s the noise and omnipresent sense of sneering dread which quickly emerge as its defi
ning features. Rushing squalls of feedback which flash outward from the looping bass groove which sits at the epicentre of “Spirals”. The chiming dirge of the title track is hewn from the same elements, but fashions them into a loping gothic waltz.
That propensity for uncompromising, unblinking aggression and difficulty doesn’t mean that Waxing Moon is an endurance test simply for its own sake or that Noj haven’t put work in. Note the intricacy with which opener “No Room Cut To Fit” builds towards a climax where metronomic pummelling and spiderwalk arpeggios alternate with one another, the layering in of what could be mistaken for thrash metal riffs amidst “Dream Deicide”, or the downright dancefloor friendly pulse of deep-cut highlight “Eternal Life”. Each of these moments points to how much thought and architecture lies behind the imposing edifice of Waxing Moon‘s caterwaul and clatter.
The members of Noj have all served time in various German post-punk bands previous to Noj (three quarters of them worked in a more traditional post-punk milieu as Go Lamborghini Go), but apart from a slightly less noisy but no less bleak track on a comp from a few years back, Waxing Moon is the first clear glimpse of the band. While the tempered and considered hand which guides the record could be the result of a few years of refinement of the material, the core instincts and interests which leap out of the speakers when Waxing Moon is cued can’t be faked or practised. Recommended.