I thought of breaking this into individual posts. But it’s just easier to lump them all together. So let’s get started …
L.A.’s own industrious noise rockers HEALTH have a crunchy new single titled “ANTI-LIFE,” featuring Deftone’s frontman Chino Moreno. It’s got crazy percussive drum-patterns, raucous guitar licks, and an audio attitude meshed between aggro grind and dreamy lulls. In other words, it sounds like classic HEALTH – albeit with an extra dose of intensity, thanks to the proto-punk collaboration. And yes, the all caps are intentional.
HEALTH’s “ANTI-LIFE,” featuring Chino Moreno, from the soundtrack LP “Dark Nights: Death Metal.”
Weirdly (or maybe spot-on appropriate), this track comes from a soundtrack compilation titled “Dark Nights: Death Metal,” inspired by the DC comic series of the same name. I haven’t read it. Nor did I even realize the association, until I actually did a bit of homework.
But the music video offers an epileptic glimpse of the artwork and content within. Apparently, the track is directly inspired by the series’ third issue, and has to do with a mathematical formula that’s a source of great and treacherous power. Sounds very comic book-ish indeed.
I guess this comes as no surprise, though, since HEALTH has dabbled in alternate forms of subversive pop media more than once. Some might remember their adventurous foray into video game soundtracks with 2012’s “Max Payne 3,” and their razor-sharp dirge “TEARS” – which incidentally, is the first single I’d ever heard from them. Here’s a reminder of that one …
HEALTH’s “TEARS,” from the 2021 official soundtrack “Max Payne 3”
HEALTH has been around since ’05, quite a bit earlier than my first encounter with them. But it took about three more years, with the release of “DEATH MAGIC,” before I fully began to appreciate their electro-percussive industrial style.
Arguably, that ’15 powerhouse release could be described as their breakthrough LP. It’s got loads of intensity, experimental, spacious, and full of serrated wisps and whirls, punctuated by stab distortions and stomping delays. And it’s remarkably listenable, thanks to the uncanny juxtaposition of Jake Duzsik’s softly monotonic vocals, which in a different band, could easily be mistaken for shoegaze or dream-pop.
To date, HEALTH have released five albums, the latest being last year’s “DISCO4:: PART 1,” which is also a collection of collaborations, including Youth Code, Xui Xui, The Soft Moon, and JPEGMAFIA. It looks like a “Part 2” might be on its way later this year, with the recent tease release of the Nine Inch Nails team-up “ISN’T EVERYONE.” This one’s also worth a listen. But it definitely feels more NIN than HEALTH. Trent Reznor has a way of doing that.
HEALTH + Nine Inch Nails’ “ISN’T EVERYONE,” from the forthcoming “DISCO4::Part 2.”
Anyway, I’ve been meaning to post some form of HEALTH’s live performance, since well before I took my year-plus hiatus. I’ve seen them a bunch of times, most notably during their extensive touring for “DEATH MAGIC” in ’15. But sadly, I have no recordings of those shows.
I actually had a solid plan to feature their Teragram show back in May of ’19. They’d just released their fourth album “VOL.4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR.” And as anticipated, the show was rightly loud and fantastic. But unfortunately, the audio got all screwed up in my recordings, sounding incredibly muffled and muted. So disappointed and discouraged, I nixed the idea … and I suppose, never thought (or more likely forgot) to look back.
Now that’s all changed. Since restarting the blog, I’ve been sifting through unpublished content, sorting out what to post ,while awaiting live music’s return. In the searching, I stumbled upon a few decent recordings of HEALTH performing in late ’17, at the inaugural Cloak & Dagger Festival, which some might recall was a coldwave/darkwave extravaganza, spearheaded by members of She Wants Revenge, and split between two nights at dueling DTLA theatres, the Globe and the Tower.
Most of the material I’ve got is from “DEATH MAGIC,” which comprised a big chunk of HEALTH’s 14 song setlist. There’s five songs from that release, including the single “NEW COKE,” and one of my personal favs “STONEFIST.” And I’ve got a sixth track, “EUPHORIA,” taken from the ’17 remix LP “DISCO3.”
For the most part, these are decent recordings. Some of the picture struggles to keep focus, thanks to the endless strobing lights. But most importantly, the sound is about as clear as it’s going to get with a ’17 iPhone recording. Perhaps, when live music returns, HEALTH will hit the road again and I’ll be able to update and add to these recordings with newer material and better quality.
Until then, enjoy this flashback of HEALTH’s spirited performance at Cloak & Dagger on 10.20.19.
HEALTH perform “VICTIM” at Cloak & Dagger in DTLA at the Globe Theatre on 10.20.17.
Health perform “NEW COKE” at Cloak & Dagger in DTLA at the Globe Theatre on 10.20.17.
HEALTH perform “STONEFIST” at Cloak & Dagger in DTLA at the Globe Theatre on 10.20.17.
HEALTH perform “L.A. LOOKS” at Cloak & Dagger in DTLA at the Globe Theatre on 10.20.17.
HEALTH perform “DARK ENOUGH” at Cloak & Dagger in DTLA at the Globe Theatre on 10.20.17.
HEALTH perform “EUPHORIA” at Cloak & Dagger in DTLA at the Globe Theatre on 10.20.17.
Here’s the setlist as playlist from their Cloak & Dagger performance on 10.20.17.
And as a special bonus, I’ve included the setlist for HEALTH’s Teragram Ballroom show on 05.12.19, which I originally intended to post, but nixed due to the aforementioned audio fail.