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A mid-afternoon slot in a tent at Coachella last month seemed the most incongruous setting imaginable for Savages. In almost entirely monochrome stage clothing and with an attitude that is serious to the point of near-mockery, Savages should probably play all of their shows in dark, smoke-filled rooms that are small enough to ensure Jehnny Beth’s death stare is felt by every member of the audience.

Silence Yourself, the band’s much-anticipated debut album, is filled with more conviction than you’ll hear in any other debut this year, and while the band’s laser-guided focus has already turned a fair few heads, this 38-minute blast of ferocity will no doubt turn a few more.

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The band’s make-up feels familiar in a lot of ways. Siouxsie seems a little too easy a touchstone for Beth’s vocal style, but the comparison is also unavoidable, although there is a hint of Corin Tucker when she really lashes out. The rhythm section has that same metronomic menace that Joy Division once had.

The band might not sound particularly original, but within seconds of the irresistible bass line of “Shut Up” kicking in, it is also clear that submission is the only option. The elements are all present in that opening track: the tightly coiled tension that always seems to carry the threat of violence, with Beth’s vocal barely containing its fury.

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“I Am Here” takes that sound up a notch, opening with a guitar that floats in the background before exploding like a death charge in the middle of the song. The accelerated finale of the track is exhilarating, and as the album barrels through the chugging guitars of “City’s Full,” it is astounding to realize just how clearly Savages knows what they want to be. It is an opening triptych of supreme confidence.

“Strife” and “Waiting For A Sign” see the album slow down, proving that the band does not always have to have the foot on the accelerator to make this work. The former has an unusual swagger that is at odds with what has proceeded, but Beth is still in nihilistic form with the chorus, singing “They must seek you there down in the strife / They must seek you there where death outnumbers life.”

The lyrics would be easier to sneer at if it was not for the fact that Savages has so much belief in what they are doing. “Waiting For A Sign” is a five-minute slow burn that rounds out the album’s opening half, sounding like it was recorded in a room filled with dry ice, although pairing it with the calm-before-the-storm instrumental of “Dead Nature” does stall the album’s momentum slightly.

This leaves Silence Yourself needing a little bit of rocket fuel to get back on track, and the amazing “She Will” does the trick. It is an absolute hurricane of a song with an explosive chorus during which the band allows itself to just let rip. The track also features one of the album’s more dynamic lyrics in “She will come back again, get hooked on loving hard, forcing the slut out.” Savages allows the anger to boil over on so few occasions that it is a real thrill when they do.

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“She Will” is simply the start of a knockout B side, with “No Face” and “Hit Me” refusing to allow the pace to flag as the album barrels towards its close. And that is before they even get to “Husbands,” their debut single and calling card. The choice to put it so late in the album is possibly the most concrete example of the confidence the band has in their other songs, but this re-recorded version remains a rare beast, an exponent of quiet-loud dynamics as good as any you could think to name. Beth’s ecstatic/psychotic vocal merely enhances the maelstrom, although Fay Milton’s drumming (which is outstanding throughout Silence Yourself) sounds at its crushing best here.

Considering the hype levels around Savages in the UK, I wearily predicted that the album could not possibly live up to expectations, except it went and did anyway. Silence Yourself is a celebration of the fervent power of artistic yet confrontational rock, on a par with the likes of Relationship of Command or Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Ignore the high school poetry of the album’s front-cover manifesto, look past the self-consciously moody shots of the band, and just listen to that music.

For more info:

Savages website