- Six years after their last release -debut album, Auras- Deafcult return with a new one, Future Of Illusion. Reorganised, reenergised and pissed off at the state of the world, they express their indignation with a sonic assault of distorted, effects-laden guitar noise. Despite slimming down, from four to three guitarists, they still manage to make a hell of a racket, enveloping the listener within their walls of sound. Future Of Illusion is the group’s first release to feature their newest recruit, Kellie Lloyd of Screamfeeder, on bass and vocals and whose inimitable voice adds an edge and an urgency to the group’s powerful new sound.
Deafcult have never been known for their aggression. Both their past releases were rather beautiful affairs: drenched in reverb, chorus, delay and anything else Stevie Scott and co. could cram onto their already-bursting pedal boards. It would appear that in the interim years between albums, the group have cast aside their Slowdive records in favour of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Skinny Puppy and the late, experimental era of Black Flag. There is a darkness entrenched within the fibres of Future of Illusion and where previous releases, Deafcult and Auras, radiated a lightness and a brightness, Future Of Illusion bristles with rage and unfettered hostility.
Is their anger surprising? Our society has changed drastically and irreparably since 2017, when Deafcult released Auras. Since then the world has endured the presidency of Donald Trump, a sharp rise in right-wing extremism and a pandemic that literally brought the world to a standstill. It has witnessed an upturn in political instability in almost every global region and has seen the return of war to continental Europe. Lastly, but not least importantly, it is experiencing the all too real fallout caused by the continual destruction of the earth’s natural resources and a rapidly warming planet. What is more surprising is that so much of society is so willingly apathetic and ignorant of the chaos surrounding them, ignoring the overwhelming evidence that we are all, pretty much fucked.
Oppenheimer’s Regret kicks off the proceedings, with a heavily distorted, almost industrial bassline. Waves of distorted guitar soon follow, something longtime listeners will recognise as a trademark of the band, but this time around the pace is faster, frantic even and the guitars have a sharp, metallic edge to their sound, slicing and slashing their way through the other instruments. “This existential mess / That you so kindly left / Are we the repossessed?” chants the group, over a ritualistic, tribal sounding drumbeat. This is not the Deafcult of old: strap yourselves in listeners, it is going to be a wild ride.
Coming completely out of left-field, is the albums’ fifty-second title-track. Reminiscent of alternative hip-hop, it creates an oddly experimental interlude before the final quarter of the album, bridging the relatively slower paced Metamorphosis with the manic Tulpas; the latter referencing the theosophical concept of materialising a thought form through meditation. Ame Solitaire, French for lonely soul, closes out the record. Whatever demons the band had failed to exorcise before this point were surely banished by the song’s close. Ending on a refrain of, “My heart’s aflame”, Ame Solitaire is a final act of catharsis on an album that embodies a musical form of purging for the members of Deafcult.
John Lydon famously sang, “Anger is an energy,” and across fifteen tracks Deafcult certainly harness and harbour their anger, utilising it as a driving force, pushing them further and further into the dark. Negative energies can influence positive change, and by purposefully channelling the powerful emotions of rage and anger, new and beautiful things can emerge; not unlike new growth after a forest fire. Future Of Illusion may be the product Deafcult’s communal discontent, but it is not without its charm. To call it beautiful may be going a bit far. Though there are glimmers of beauty, they are fleeting at best. Deafcult however, are not trying to be beautiful, they are trying to illuminate the predicament of mankind as it wallows in a mess of its own making. This is the soundtrack to an armageddon, where the future itself is an illusion.
- Nick Stephan.