On Sun and Violence, Heroin in Tahiti step out of the cool shade, substituting it for a scorching inferno. This is the band who gave us the seductive, yet bleakly pessimistic sound of instrumental death surf; a full throttle, dark and sultry reincarnation of surf rock. It’s surf music for a broken generation, the kind that can’t find any kind of solace. The sandy beach and the glistening waterfront have seen better days.
Surf’s long been in a state of caged slumber, but now it’s morphed into a different beast. The name gives it away – death surf is brutally dark music, and its terror is ever-present. Amity Island experienced the same thing forty or so years ago. In death surf, you won’t see any beautiful girls and there aren’t any surfers to ride the waves. There isn’t a surf-inspired, bright chord progression on the hazy horizon, but in a way little has changed: the clean electric guitars are still there, and they still glint over the clear cyan of the water. It may look pretty, but it’s still dangerous; you only have to look at the red-lettered warnings that litter the beach and read about the recent spate of shark attacks to discover as much. A dark paradise awaits all who are willing to take the trip.
Sun and Violence has tanned to the point of blackening. The squealing, sun-baked guitars have spent too long in the flammable heat, and they ride side by side with a set of propulsive drums. Heroin in Tahiti provide a couple of experimental interludes, and that keeps the music slightly unsteady, dehydrated and completely dry. The drums have vicious teeth that tear into the music. They surge and pound violently, running their bone-dry river of percussive blood through the dusty tributaries of passionate and loveless chants. Spent needles, severed crabs and broken shells litter the music.
Sun and Violence has been built on solid foundations; the music is a vast, unmovable canyon that has been there for thousands of years; it was just waiting for the right point of sunlight. In the Mediterranean, the music is bleak and yet intensely vibrant. Unlimited dark colors swirl and flow. The fiery drums bake under the intense heat. Bustling markets sit beside dusty roads that lead to other townships. The feeling of hopelessness is compounded by the coda “Costa Concordia”, which is named after the fated cruise ship that met its doom off the coast of Italy. The tropical slides and the lilting melodies conceal darker things; the “accident” led to several fatalities. Sun and Violence is an admirable continuation. Inside the jaws, the sun is obliterated; it might be the only way to escape the heat. (James Catchpole)