Bruges Credit: Ricardo Adame

Chicago is a noise-rock city. It’s a gritty, working-class town built out of iron, glass, and dirt. It’s the home of Steve Albini, Touch and Go Records, and the Jesus Lizard. It’s never a surprise when a local band that embraces loud, grimy abrasion puts out a good album–it’s just what we do around here. But A Thread of Light, the debut full-length by Chicago four-piece Bruges, isn’t just a striking noise-rock record—it’s a mind-bending masterpiece. The group, whose members also play in incredibly loud noise and hardcore bands such as Moral Void, Den, and Angry Gods, had already been around for a few years when they put out the 2019 EP An Erasure of Form, whose doomy, high-volume Unsane worship I couldn’t stop listening to. But that release only hints at the heights they’ve reached on A Thread of Light. Pristinely engineered and played with next-level power and precision, the album drives like Tar, drones like Boris, and clangs like early Swans. The gloomy, furious spoken-word vocals of vocalist Patrick Nordyke bleed unhinged fury while the band pour out wave after wave of unrelenting, oozing distortion. Early Bruges material focused on repetition, but this time around their songs lean into progression and growth; each epic track is a creeping, twisting, turning, and evolving journey. Even in a city as steeped in noise rock as Chicago, A Thread of Light could wind up the best local rock release of the year.   v