In the 24 breakneck minutes that comprise Joint D≠'s full-length debut, there is but one pause. The title track, strangely placed at the end, opens with an impenetrable wall of feedback, a jarring maneuver that's still calmer than any other moment on the record. The surge builds until it explodes into yet another headlong rush of angular punk aggression—then, the end. Strike Gently is a sprint, not a marathon, and as with most any victory, an invigorating mix of elation and exhaustion accompanies each listen.
Charlotte's Nick Goode, who lends both his guitar and his snarl to Brain F≠, leads Joint D≠. The similar names correctly indicate a shared love for propulsion, but Joint D≠ places a higher premium on physicality. In Brain F≠, Goode shares vocal duties with Elise Anderson, his guttural bark mixing with her sweetly snot-nosed coos. With Joint D≠, Goode is the primary focus. His guitar squall powers the trio's ferocious assault, while his serrated vocals provide additional bite.
This barbed aesthetic climaxes with "(I'm) Haunted," which builds from a steady bass line as Goode shoots off peals of screaming distortion. Then it's off to the races: Goode's precise riffs fade into a feverish blur, and Anderson takes her cameo in the chorus, bolstering Goode with a purgative shriek. She lands the body blow that makes this bruise.
With its mix of precision and brutality, Joint D≠ is a kindred spirit to Raleigh's Double Negative. But Strike Gently might actually surpass that veteran ensemble with sheer momentum. An unrelenting endurance test, it's a forceful exercise that compensates with copious thrills.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Loud, live or Latin."