Rattling with unease and emitting outward with inexplicable energy, London’s very own black midi has arrived with a bang—and to all their detractors and “industry plants” conspirators—they are certainly here to stay. With a sound and lyrics that are uniquely manic and just plain weird, their live sets are even weirder. So weird that black midi quickly became one of the most hyped musical acts in recent memory after their KEXP performance last year. At the time, the band had a mere few songs to their name. But now that their highly-anticipated debut album Schlagenheim—German for “hit home”—has arrived, the buzz surrounding black midi has most done just that—hit home with a viable thud.

Rarely do bands garner hype without releasing some kind of a body of work, but black midi is not like most bands. Since forming in 2017, a cult following sprouted from the band’s off-the-cuff demeanor and attracted so much hype that a major indie label—Rough Trade—readily gobbled them up in faith, and it’s easy to see why they took the risk.

With Schlagenheim, the experimental collective comprised of Geordie Greep (vocals/guitar), Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin (vocals/guitar), Cameron Picton (vocals/bass), and Morgan Simpson (drums), has more than rewarded their believers for taking a gamble on bunch of mere adults, albeit a damn talented bunch of mere adults. These guys are all under 21. They aren’t even old enough to drink (in the USA)! Let that sink in for a moment. What are you doing with your life? For God’s sake, what am doing with my life?

Anyhow, it's impressive what these four dudes can do at such a young age. In fact, each one of them possesses an advanced technical ability that would deceive any first-time listener. Seriously, it sounds like black midi have been playing music together for decades.

Led by Simpson’s ingeniously erratic drumming and Greep’s spastic yelping, black midi’s sporadic playing style manifests into an experience that is unto itself. Though they stir together elements of math rock, no wave and post-punk into one disgustingly bleak serving of abnormality, it has become popular for music writers and fans alike to fit black midi into constricted boxes. Yes, Schlagenheim may possess some semblance of the aforementioned genres, alongside others like kraut and yes, even jazz, but pining for some rigid label is futile, because Schlagenheim is one of the most unique rock records released this year and maybe of the past five years.

Produced by Dan Carey, eight of Schlagenheim’s nine tracks were recorded in just five days. Yes, five. And though this record’s improvised guise makes this believable, each moment of each track eventually reveals itself to be intentional. From untraditional time-signatures to feral mumbling, each track is an otherworldly journey where worlds are built, set on fire, but then reconstructed with deranged disposition—resulting in an experience that keeps listeners on their toes for the entire duration.

As you listen on the edge of your seats, you’ll slowly but surely realize that Schlagenheim is an album of contrasts. Where there are melodies, there are complete meltdowns into chaotic noise; where there are indecipherable whispers, there are unsettling shouts of terror and where there is light, there is of course—darkness. This may sound like a predictable pattern at first, but once this album, unravels and extends its claws toward the throats of listeners, this formula is anything but predictable.

Tracks like opener ‘953’ and ‘Near DT, MI’ will baptize listeners by fire with their unrelenting energy, but the album’s true unstable nature begins with the album’s 8-minute centrepiece ‘Western’. Though Greep bookends the track with rambling tranquil whispers, the vocalist’s divisive voice dwindles into a delirious wail during the track’s combative heart. But as peculiar Greep’s voice may sound here—or anywhere for that matter— his words are even odder: “A pink caterpillar with six anorexic children let me stay/ But I had to keep moving through anteater town/ After anteater town after anteater town after anteater town after anteater town…” Yeah...what? Just wait until you hear the next track.

If ‘Western’ wasn’t proof of the band’s bestial ways, then the demented brut of the album’s title track will do the trick. As ‘Of Schlagenheim’ lures listeners inward with a beckoning drone, black midi unhesitatingly pushes listeners down Dante’s ninth circle of hell where Greep has gone completely out of his mind. At the track’s halfway mark, the band’s unkempt voice completely untwists and spills his guts, unleashing a clownish yelp that’ll dwell peacefully in your nightmares for nights to come.

I could go on longer and talk about the terrifying ‘bmbmbm’ where Greep fiendishly personifies a pervert defiling a woman merely by his obsessive eyes, or the slowly combustible ‘Ducter’, which appropriately concludes the album with utter lawlessness, but humanity’s attention spans are becoming shorter by the minute. So I will leave you with this: don’t expect black midi to save rock music. In fact, expect nothing at all from the band because it is the only way to enjoy these phenoms. While they may not saviors, black midi and their debut album are a needed breath of rancid air—a change of pace amongst the many (maybe too many) ethereally agreeable artists and bands fighting to be distinguished within the independent sphere of alternative music.