Microwaves is at a crossroads.
The Pittsburgh trio, which has been soldering together noise-rock, no wave and art-metal for 18 years now, has a new record out September 28 – a barn-burner titled, Via Weightlessness on Three One G, a label run by The Locust’s Justin Pearson. And while the band has been down this road before – this is the sixth Microwaves LP – this time it feels just a little bit different.
“We’ve really got something here,” says John Roman, the band’s drummer. “I think this is a great place for someone [unfamiliar with Microwaves] to start. I think the new one is kind of a ‘best of,’ even though it’s all new songs.”
One listen and you’ll get Roman’s point. From the mathy, prog-punk descents of Dave Kuzy’s guitar on the title track, to the metallic crunch and wallop of the pleasantly titled “Love Catheter,” this is a record that strives to drill its cybernetic earworms deeper and deeper into your cerebellum. In 12 blistering songs running under 27 minutes, Microwaves scorches earth with a delivery that is exceptionally visceral for a band this far into its tenure.
Kuzy attributes the buzz the band is drawing with Via Weightlessness to the current line-up; after a series of revolving players, Johnny Arlett joined on bass and vocals in 2012 and the from there the trio has really clicked.
“I think, unlike a lot of our past records, it all sort of fits together better,” Kuzy explains. “Just having the same people working together for six years? It helps the material.”
The writing this time around also benefits from a range of reference points. While Kuzy’s guitar sometimes hints at the prog-metal complexities of Orthrelm, the band’s jagged rhythms call to mind a marriage of Canadian metal band Voivod and the quirky new wave of early Devo. Like several bands stalking the nation — Reno’s Elephant Rifle and Austin’s Exhalants come to mind — Microwaves also seems to take great joy in challenging the conventions of noise-rock.
“We wanted to push ourselves into uncharted territory,” Roman says. “Generally, it’s tough to fit in. And that was the point all along – we weren’t trying to fit in. For better or worse, mission accomplished.” – Justin Vellucci, Pittsburgh Current, Sept. 26, 2018