HEALTH Return withVol. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR

Having produced the soundtrack for 2012 video game, Max Payne 3, and featuring prominently on the Atomic Blonde soundtrack with their cover of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ – a phenomenal cover of a classic, in all honesty – HEALTH’s successes are sporadic. More likely than not due to their feature on Crystal Castles’ cover of HEALTH’s own song, ‘Crimewave’, over ten years ago, the noise-rock band have earned themselves a ‘This is:’ playlist on Spotify.

New HEALTH release, VOL.4::SLAVES OF FEAR: a 38-minute collection that is, from the start, clearly designed to peddle an experience as a whole rather than a collection of hit singles. Bar the titular ‘SLAVES OF FEAR’ and midway-marker, ‘THE MESSAGE’, featuring Code Orange drummer Jami Morgan on vocals, no tracks stand out individually but instead contribute to a continued provocative. It is an album that, in other parts of the country, might go untouched; in the ‘edgy Leeds’ scene, however, it provides a pummelling and anthemic electronic listen to down your VKs and lace up your Filas.

Shared on their Instagram, HEALTH give two tips for listening to SLAVES OF FEAR: play it in order and play it loud. These are not so much tips as mandatory conditions. The swirling atmosphere of impending doom – achieved largely by the pounding electronic, deep bass, and synthetic monotone vocals – can only be fully achieved when the vibrations can be felt through the table.

Essentially, it is good – but nothing original is really occurring here, neither in the case of the style it follows or HEALTH’s discography generally, nor does HEALTH do much to tackle the inaccessibility of the genre to newcomers and non-fans. The brooding tone that VOL.4::SLAVES OF FEAR adopts means it is unlikely to often feature as a ‘listen’ for fans; rather, it seems more appropriately relegated to background music, be that late-night essay procrastination or pre-drinks. 

[2.5/5 stars]

Tom Poole