Personnel: Zachary Lipez (vocals); David Obuchowski (guitar); Dave Witte (drums); Zohra Atash (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Dean Baltulonis.
Recording information: 1130 Square Feet, Rollingsford, NH; Colorado; New York; The Wild Arctic, Portsmouth, NH.
While the lineup includes members of Municipal Waste and Revocation, and their debut album was released by the extreme metal label Relapse Records, it's worth noting up front that Publicist UK are not a metal band. They're heavy, all right, but there are more post-punk and goth influences in their deep, brooding music than any genuine metal reference points, though these guys clearly aspire to the force and technical dexterity of metal on their debut album, 2015's Forgive Yourself. On these nine songs, Publicist UK consistently default to the dark side, with David Obuchowski's banks of textured guitar hovering over everything like storm clouds, while lead singer Zachary Lipez has clearly been working on his Ian Curtis impersonation, his deep, theatrical vocals roaring forth as Dave Witte's drums explode like fireworks throughout the mix and Brett Bamberger's bass throbs with the relentlessness of a headache underneath it all. If Publicist UK were aiming for something gloomy and forbidding, Forgive Yourself certainly succeeds, though there are more than a few moments where one suspects this may all be tongue in cheek, from the band's name (which sounds deliberately vague and British despite the bandmembers all hailing from the United States) to the solemnity with which Lipez delivers the often surreal lyrics. "Now you're in a strip club in DC at 3 in the afternoon, trying to convince some sad refugee you're different," "I love it when you talk realpolitik," "We were born to lick boots and pretend it was steak," "We've got coke but no keys," and "Since you left, I haven't bothered you at all" are just a few of the lyrics on Forgive Yourself that lie somewhere between dark humor and just plain darkness, and Lipez gives them a delivery that could work either way in its nonchalant bitterness. If you want to luxuriate in your bad mood, Forgive Yourself is a nearly ideal soundtrack, and if you're not against laughing at the studied seriousness of others, Publicist UK could be right up your alley, too -- it's almost like getting two albums in one. ~ Mark Deming