STA is now Ten Years Old

The Letters EP Is On A Killing Spree

"...A shape-shifting masterpiece of rhythmic and dynamic intensity."

ASIWYFA's recorded career so far has been a constant exercise in distillation. Their very earliest demos were near 10-minute post-rock epics, taking forever to make their point and losing their appeal because of it. But as they went on, they learned that less is often more. "Holylands, 3am" was an early example of a pure blast of instrumental rock that says as much in two minutes as many bands manage in nine. Then came the self-titled debut album and nearly half of the tracks clock in at less than five minutes. It's a tendency that the Belfast-based foursome have continued on this new four-track EP, wherein only the closing behemoth "K Is For Killing Spree (Ode To)" surpasses the four-minute mark. That's not to say that there is anything wrong with long songs, far from it, but the band have worked out how to create maximum impact, and excitement, in the shortest possible time. Riffs are more intense, transitions are quicker, sections are shorter and tracks like the quite extraordinary "S Is For Salamander" are the result. The opener here, 'Salamander" is arguably the band's high-point so far, a shape-shifting masterpiece of rhythmic and dynamic intensity. It's so good, in fact, that it leaves the rest of the tracks with work to do, but there's no harm in putting the best track first. At only two-and-a-half minutes, "D Is For Django The Bastard" initially seems a little rushed with its myriad mini-movements (including a jazz breakdown, hence it's named after Django Reinhardt) but repeated listens help to make sense of it, while the main riff is as brutal as ever. "B Is For B-Side" is a more sedate affair that reckons that one riff at a time isn't enough,  why not play two across each other? Why not indeed? And then, finally, the band's tribute to Belfast hardcore heroes The Killing Spree, which is where they basically raise the middle figure to every other band in a similar sphere and say,"Go on then, top this". It doesn't make an awful lot of sense but Jesus H, it leaves an impression. Absolute mayhem, the way only this band knows how. Chris Jones

- Chris Jones, Alternative Ulster