A certain spikiness is all but mandatory in young British rock bands now, but Test Icicles have gone way beyond the optimum on this debut album. For Screening Purposes Only is a user-unfriendly artefact that tries to be as hard to grasp as possible, and is arguably not worth the effort. Its dozen tracks are mostly tense, bitter barrages of yelping pop-metal in which the prerequisites of angular guitar shards and pummelling backbeat are augmented by hoarse squawking. In places, they sound like Slayer or Napalm Death with eccentric taste in tempo, occasionally punctuated by breakdown sections or middle-eights in the manner of Atari Teenage Riot, as everything bounces luridly, distorting angrily on tracks like the single "Boa vs Python", a drill'n'disco blend. Discerning the lyrics is more trouble than it should be, which is a shame, as the few clear lines hint at a sharp line in iconoclastic rhetoric - "But when it's the end of the world, d'you think we'll have more reason to live?" When the singer reins in his delivery, most effectively on "Pull the Lever", he's capable of something approaching the lofty disdain of Mark E Smith, asking "Shall we clear up this bloody mess now?" Yes, is the answer.
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