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Photo by Rowdy Dugan, artwork/layout by Jason Faries

After more than five years in the making, All Clean is finally poised to release its debut album. The long-awaited Down from the Inner Work won’t hit turntables until September, but this week, the first of two singles is out. The anxiety-fueled sonic assault of “I’m Going Straight to Hell” proves that frontman and mastermind Zachary Edwards (Ice Eater, Oil Boom) has made good on the wait.

Tracked way back in pre-apocalyptic 2017 with engineer Alex Bhore (This Will Destroy You, BULLS) at his Elmwood Studios in Dallas, the single is the result of Edwards pulling the very neat Dave Grohl/Paul McCartney trick of recording all the instruments himself. What you’ll hear, though, is anything but the intimate folk of Macca’s first solo venture or the cheery pop of the Foo Fighters’ debut. See instead: the deranged experimentation of a Dr. Frankenstein mixed with the fraught duality of Jekyll and Hyde. All Clean’s unique blend of beefy guitars, synthpad buzz, and Edward’s schizophrenic howl have reanimated a sound heretofore unheard and infused it with vibrant, horrifying life.

Thundering kick drum explodes from the jump, with concussive snare cracks, followed by a loop of shrill guitar slides before Colossians bass stabs doubled by rumbling synth punch you in right in the chest. It’s the sound of a meticulously controlled car crash. Restlessness builds over the verse with descending runs punctuating the pulsing rhythms. The paranoia climbs into the chorus, as over the crescendo, Edwards seems to practically swallow the vocal mic as he bellows, “Look down when low / Head up, but it’s just for show / I laugh if off!”

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Haunting, visceral, and rad as a flying Kiss of Death Backflip on a dirt bike. There’s an irony in the name All Clean — the unnerving tension in the music can make you feel about as clean as watching a Harmony Korine movie, yet the same fascination that bottlenecks the opposite side of the highway after a pileup drives the listener to press their earbuds in farther to better absorb the discomfort. The seamless layering of malfunctioning robot electronics, brazen metallic guitars, and seismic bass lines makes for a track as infectious as it is unsettling.

Absolutely nothing sounds like this. Locally or anywhere else. That’s a bit of a hyperbolic statement. One that bands often say they aspire to — and even sometimes try to claim for themselves — but in All Clean’s case, it might actually be true. It’s a bastard child of Nine Inch Nails, Sonic Youth, and Samhain, a lab-grown mutant of industrial metal, noise punk, and hard rock unleashed upon the innocents. They should savor the attack.

As a sampler for the album to come, “I’m Going Straight to Hell” serves to only increase the anticipation for an album I’ve been waiting on for half a decade. For the song’s foreboding narrator, the title might stand as a solemn resignation or a prideful boast. For the listener, it serves as acceptance. Like the heart-pounding yet giddy anticipation you feel entering a haunted house, you are leery of the scares but seek them greedily. If Edwards is indeed headed for H-E-double hockey sticks, I am happy to follow him there.

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