The human psyche is a double bind. Caught between the undesirability of being oneself and the impossibility of being anything else, the mind is left to circle the void. On Currency // Castration, their third LP—and first with Relapse Records—, Melbourne’s Geld render the dissociation and alienation of modern living with exacting precision. Tension and release become a suffocating chokechain in their hands, carefully sculpted waves of percussive and distorted aggression stretching the listener out across a tightrope of terror-wracked mental states. Currency // Castration unfurls like a series of infinite reflections breaking down into fractal chaos—it becomes increasingly unclear whether one’s suffering comes from the outside world, or from the confines of one’s own skull. The only catharsis Geld offers for this confusion is the kind found in staring oneself down face to face, escaping through a mirror of abyssal ugliness. Complexity and simplicity vie for dominance in equal proportion. On this third full-length offering, Geld has distilled a despairingly hellish vision of the world into a thundering crack to the temple, a naked and unsparing fusion of hardcore’s bleakest violence with metal’s ruthless strength-through-conviction merging into a single sense of merciless purpose. Currency // Castration offers a vision of transcendence from the world’s crushing inanity via self-contained, grotesque methods, those only discovered through pushing beyond the floor, beyond the bottom of the barrel.
Cutting their teeth in the gutters of Melbourne’s teeming punk and hardcore scene, Geld established themselves as the forerunners of a new breed of deranged aggression with their first LP Perfect Texture (2018), co-released through stalwarts Iron Lung Records and Static Shock Records. This record was followed in quick succession by the EP Soft Power (2018) and LP Beyond the Floor (2020), releases which saw the band progressively push their sound towards a heavier, dirge-inflected register. On Currency // Castration, Geld’s miasmic excess gets a facelift—not the kind that leaves one looking like a sleeker, more trimmed version of oneself, but something closer to a facelift performed by Rottweilers. The result is a stripped bare, streamlined take upon hardcore in its purest form, reconstituted into a heavy dose of amphetamine thrills and injected to the dome of an elevated Neanderthal.
Geld make no pretensions at being “interesting” for interesting’s sake—they are thuggy and unshakably, unsettlingly real. As vocalist Al Smith puts it, “One of the most boring things people can do is try to dress up what someone else has already contributed to a genre and make it ‘clever’… We’re more interested in finding our own position”. Geld’s primary concern is for the lore and journey experienced through the process of going eternally “beyond”—this pursuit alone staves off stasis. Their subtle but provocative shifts in style from one record to the next echo such forebears as Ulver, Swans, Neurosis, and Dead Can Dance, each successive record evincing a clear interest in pressing deeper into the drawn out, expansive landscape of Geld’s collective misanthropic imaginings and isolation. In the words of guitarist Cormac Ó Síocháin, “Inertia disgusts us. All our favorite bands are the ones where from one record to the next the change in sound makes sense, but if you listen to two records that are three or four releases apart from one another you stop and think, ‘how the fuck did we get here?’ With this initial trilogy of LPs, it feels like we’ve established a substantive foundation to build from.”
Recorded across the Southern Winter Solstice of June 2022, Currency // Castration is Geld’s most collaboratively written record to date. Although the writing process began with an initial desire to write a raging, straight-forward post-pandemic hardcore EP, this attempted exorcism of Geld’s isolation-driven fascinations quickly spilled out into a full-length’s worth of material, taking upon a fervor and mind of its own. While oft compared to the athletic determination of Equalizing Distort-era Gauze, the brutish nihilism of Die Kreuzen, and the motorik-flying-off-the-rails, oddball sensibility of Hawkwind, Geld’s approach to hardcore on Currency // Castration bears closer spiritual resemblance to the throbbing, crushingly direct orientation of industrial dance music. Each song is executed at the edge of the band’s compositional ability, surgically worked and reworked with the sole purpose of maximizing the percussive tension between momentum and inertia, creating a wall of sound which offers catharsis only through the direct build up and release of a maddening energy. Certain tracks edge and scratch at a relief that is ultimately denied, toying with the nightmarish promise of a breakdown that never comes (“Chained to a Gate”) or, elsewhere, pulsing with frenetically itching riffs that stream forth like a gush of blood boiling into the lining of the listener’s psyche (“Cut You Down”). Others evince the honed physique of Japanese Burning Spirits hardcore fed through the broken brain of someone on a years-long Rrröööaaarrr-era Voivod spin-out (“Secret Prison”) and the gasping clarity of silences punctured by a snapping, Mecht Mensch-inflected bark (“Fog of War”). A suite of cavernous, industrial interludes (“Across a Broad Plain”) and sand-blasted synth/acoustic outros (“Castration”) give the record a sense of rounded purpose, enveloping the listener in a total dystopian hellworld of Geld’s own making.
Geld’s vernacular is existential yet anti-philosophical. They refuse to dress up their style with unnecessary frills or shrewd wordplay, opting instead for a lyrical approach that takes language as a blunt object for unceasingly direct allegories. Currency//Castration evokes the depressive malaise of coming to on a Tuesday after going out on a Friday; the cold and damning life sentence of what it feels like to be crushed by the world and have nothing but your own damaged mentality to blame. Geld’s bleak vision of the world reaches its head on “Secret Prison,” which examines the insurmountable contradiction and despair of being trapped in one’s own consciousness. There is no resolution between desperately desiring to be alone and simultaneously desiring to shout one’s need for isolation at others—for all of our introspection and attempts at self-understanding, when the noise dies down and everybody leaves, all we are left with is the continued interminable ticking of life trudging forward. “Fog of War” inverts classic tropes of anti-war rhetoric and turns them inward, facing the listener with the terror of being subject to the whims of a world that has long since spiraled out of anyone’s control—least of all your own self. “Success” turns this same rabid gaze upon the gross accumulation of wealth as a way of life with a sense of cold pity, expounding upon the mad futility of trying to escape mortality by surrounding oneself with an excess of indulgences. By contrast, “The Fix is In” embraces the transcendence of pushing further into one’s misanthropy and alienation. It regards, without romanticism, the anarchic depravity of living within a failed psyche, a failed society, a failed world disintegrating into a Gestalt psychic scream. It is the sound of mad laughter that accompanies the refusal to embrace delusion—simply acknowledging that your life is spiraling towards the abyss is never enough to prevent it from happening all the same.
With Currency // Castration, Geld offer no promise of a higher purpose or resolve. Rather, they lean into dissociation, finding truth and meaning in the transcendental joy of simply escaping, surviving, existing. Their sound will find a welcome home with those who have found their purpose in the dejection of outsider music and outcast art.