Ladder Devils
Nowhere Plans

I recently had the good fortune to attend a reunion show featuring some nigh forgotten stalwarts of eastern Pennsylvania’s hardcore scene; Inkling, Dysphoria, and Chine. The show was a nostalgic punch in the face (Oh, late 90’s pit kung fu) and left me asking a question familiar to us all after we hear seemingly forgotten bands: “I wonder what they’re up to now?” I knew the guys in Chine had a newband and the dudes from Dysphoria were still playing now and again. As for Inkling, I knew that the Minor Times formed after they split, but they broke up years ago. A few minutes in Google led me to Ladder Devils, featuring two surviving members of the Minor Times, and their recent release for Brutal Panda entitled Nowhere Plans.

Nowhere Plans is the band’s first full length and was pieced together from four newly recorded songs and the previously released digital EP Forget English. Similar to Young Widows or a less spastic version of Swallow Your Teeth-era Catalyst, Ladder Devils take jangling bass-led noise rock and funnel it through the hardcore, indie rock and punk of their native scene. The bass grinds away driving the songs and the guitars are alternately used to throw a dissonant pall or a squalling sheen over the rhythm section that at times borders on psychedelic.

They pull off both approaches with aplomb and the darker, moodier tracks are notably excellent. The shouted vocals are performed in tandem by two members of the band, and despite the overt aggression in them, they capture a weariness that serves to enhance the wry lyrics and atmosphere of tracks like “Limited Too” and “Get OK”. Guitar noise is used to generously in subtle and aggressive ways, providing scorching abrasion on “I Have a Name” and ominous psychedelic clouds on “Limited Too” and “Pyramid”. At times they reach back and knock out some more straightforward and pounding noise rock, but the songs are more infectious and rocking and never match the violence of an Unsane or Fight Amp.

The record is a little uneven, which is understandable considering the way it was cobbled together. Only four songs are exclusive to this release and “Get OK” and “Leavers” were included in on both the 3-way split with Kowloon Walled City and Fight Amp and the Forget English EP. So if you’re already familiar with the band, it’s a fairly slim release. It’s a good introduction to the band though and an engaging take on noise rock in its own right.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
December 20th, 2012

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