Hey look, another Joy Division re-make! We here at Sound It Out are of the age that we’re probably generationally predisposed to Joy Division covers (for instance, reviewing Sailor & I’s cover of “Disorder” last May), but this one by the band Sannhet strikes our interest more for what it signals in contemporary metal. On Joy Division’s second album, Closer, “The Eternal” marks the point where the goth pioneers descend permanently into the gloom, never to resurface (Ian Curtis would be dead before the album’s 1980 release). Sannhet turns up the ambient tension of the song a notch and replace the funereal piano with doom-metal power chords, but it’s surprising how faithful this cover remains to the original. Or maybe not. As their live recordings indicate, Joy Division were one of the heaviest bands of their generation, something their producer Martin Hannet never quite captured to the band’s dismay.
You can find Sannhet’s version of “The Eternal” in a cool compilation of covers of Joy Division’s Closer, brought to us by the folks at the open-minded metal blog CVLT Nation. It marks a significant departure for the Brooklyn group in one regard: usually an instrumental group, Sannhet has enlisted a vocalist (Joshua Strawn of the goth-friendly units Vaura and Azar Swan) to handle the essential Ian Curtis role. But in other regards, this recording makes clear that Sannhet are ultimately a post-punk group in the original sense of that term, and that “metal” is a complete misnomer for them. Yes, I hear the sinister lo-fi din of black-metal riffing and the no-fills-all-thrills tempos of thrash metal and grindcore on Revisionist, Sannhet’s debut album from earlier this year. No, this band is possibly not for you if you think of “Blue Monday” or “The Killing Moon” as post-punk. But in their sonic density, their distance from the prevailing aesthetics of the musical idiom they hail from, and their redirection of rock’s sturm und drang toward the black holes in their soul, Sannhet draw on a glorious heritage of trenchcoat-wearing miserablists from UK rock circa 1979-81. I’m eager to see where they go from here.
Revisionist is out now on Flenser Records.
Or stream it on the band’s Soundcloud page.