If haunted houses filled its halls with ambient sounds to lead the way through the horrors, it’s reasonable that Russian Baths’ new EP, Penance, could be the soundtrack. Released today via Good Eye Records, Penance is flooded with contrast, emotion, and pure grunge. Similar to the likes of Nirvana, Russian Baths’ develop a sound that sometimes doesn’t seem to fit, but pulls off a laissez-faire attitude.
The first single off the debut album, “Slenderman,” premiered in January on New Noise Magazine and opens the record with vocalist and instrumentalist Jess Rees’ ethereal sound that creates a moment of peace before the wall of sound crashes in. Each track from Penance has that signature driving rhythm, but “Slenderman” particularly so. But wander down the hall to “Poolhouse,” and you’ll find a lullaby in comparison, with an echoed chorus and a guitar singing sweetly in the background. Russian Baths love to play with rhythm and feedback, evident throughout Penance. That style lays heavy on the last track “Black Cross,” ending the album not with a whimper, but with an abrupt bang.
THE GIST: Russian Baths have a complex sound all their own. Their blend of delicate vocals, ambient guitar feedback, and forceful rhythm throughout Penance creates a towering wave of sound that’s both frightening yet exhilarating.