The party is over — this cheap cheap CD and its accompanying DVD is the parting stab of the now deceased Test Icicles. It’s a collection of different material — unreleased edits, mixes, remixes, demos etc and it’s a worthwhile little package, both for those who had already jumped on their wagon, and for those who as yet haven’t had the chance.
The band forged a strange cross between spiky-punk, metal, noise-rock, math, electro and disco, flitting between things or mixing them up but always with a careful ear for a harmony and pop hook. Test Icicles live were a noisy, chaotic party extravaganza though, slightly all over the place and generally sounding a bit, well, noisy. It was on record where they showed off more of their range, and Dig Your Own Grave is true to this.
The record kicks off with atmospherics in the horror movie mood that the record’s title and cover suggest at before kicking into the quirky-punk which characterises the majority of the band’s music, and the first three tracks on this record (“Pull The Lever”, “Your Biggest Mistake” and “All You Need Is Blood”, all taken from the album For Screening Purposes Only and appearing here in different edits/mixes) — spiky guitars, chunky bass, varying keyboard noise, vocals alternating between understated singing and yelpy screams, all backed by drum machine. This sound brought them comparisons to Death From Above 1979, Ex-Models, The Rapture, Year Future sand Bloc Party among others and any fans of the also sadly defunct Murder of Rosa Luxemburg may note a similar sound to the band’s Everyone’s In Love And Flowers Pick Themselves on several occasions. Showing Test Icicles chaotic genre-busting though is when they break to distorted electro before kicking into full on Wolf Eyes-style noise a couple of minutes into this new version of “Your Biggest Mistake”, a move which is nearly repeated — but not to quite such an extreme on “All You Need Is Blood”, this time staying more noisy electro.
After these comes “Stuck In The Bend (of a Learning Curve)”, a previously unreleased track which is great — hinting at what more the band still had to offer. Its full of scratchy off beat instrument interplay, group vocals and an incredible catchiness. After this standout, is “The Plague and Pestilence”, a new demo from Raary Deci-Hells, pointing perhaps towards what he will soon be unleashing on the world himself (or with his father as rumour has it…). It’s another strong song opening with crunching strings (guitar/bass) and synths in a huge power chord riff and also including more of that horror film mood — Thriller-style effected vocals sprawling like a monster through the noise.
having something interesting to offer behind the lo-fi noise
The album ends, or so you may be expected to believe, with a couple of remixes: first up a Chromehoof reworking of the single “Circle Square Triangle” — a more than effective remix offering some clever time-signature funk — and Jitset’s “Pull The Lever” — which isn’t a bad minimal housey electronica track but doesn’t particularly do anything interesting with, or even particularly work with, the original song. The album then leads on to two hidden tracks, which are the dirtier than dirty 4-track demos the band recorded in July of last year — “What’s Michelle Like?” and “Who Ate All The Offal” — both having something interesting to offer behind the lo-fi noise, the latter being strongest though with the first more of a trebly mess.
Altogether this is a decent record and works both as a good entry and exit point and the accompanying DVD will also be appealing with its videos and live footage. In their short time Test Icicles created a lot of noise and a massive amount of buzz, and although the early split may actually mean differently, their sounds like they had a lot of fun.