From their raucous beginnings as Baby Godzilla - a band seemingly so devoted to chaos that their tracks seemed to rarely break the three-minute mark without collapsing under the weight of riffs and restrained energy - Heck have finally found enough self-control to get an album together. What’s perhaps most striking about ‘Instructions’ - from the point of view of those who might have heard hearsay of amplifiers crowd surfed, guitars smashed, lighting rigs jumped off - is that it’s less ramshackle, more accomplished and technically adept. It’s easy to hear complicated, stop-start rock and rush to namecheck The Dillinger Escape Plan, but to do so without appreciating the gravity of such an accolade is foolhardy at best.
Comparisons aside, ‘Instructions’ is a hell of a record; intense and unrelenting, it’s the sound of a band born and refined in the live arena still learning how to be a band in the studio. Then again, maybe they shouldn’t bother - the results here speak for themselves, and standout tracks like punk thrashers ‘Mope’ and ‘Fastback’, mathcore-lite ‘A Great Idea Bastardised’ and lead single ‘The Breakers’ all fuck up the programme like a brick in a washing machine. Heck even found time to write a sixteen-minute three part track to finish, ‘See The Old Lady…’ and it’s perhaps the best thing on the record, amazingly managing to stick largely to up-tempo rock without resorting to cheesy breakdowns or shallow post-rock imitation.
For another band, the raw intensity of ‘Instructions’ might seem like a persona played by the band; for Heck, it’s simply the mark of a record that’s captured them exactly as they are at this moment in time. Although it’s tempting to call ‘Instructions’ a ‘fascinating document’, it’s probably more accurate to settle for ‘rad record’.