Birthed from Winnipeg’s severely harsh winters, Tunic’s latest release, Exhaling, feels fitting considering its emotional and sonic landscape. After nearly calling it quits before drummer Dan Unger joined the three piece — opening for a sold out METZ show — guitarist and vocalist David Schellenberg and bassist Roy Ellis use chaotic feedback and jarring atonal punk riffs in their latest collection of tracks.
Due to unforeseen circumstances with their previous label, Tunic teamed up with Toronto-based Artoffact Records for Exhaling, a compilation comprised of 23 releases and re-releases since their 2016 debut.
Exhaling is a staggering collection of work that flows organically and underscores the trio’s growth and momentum, especially considering it’s a collection of their material over the last five years into one cohesive package.
An abrasive and pummeling work from start to finish, Schellenberg’s vocals and frenetic guitar remain relentless through their tracks’ barely-two-minute time constraints.
Using Tunic as a mechanism to help cope with their lived through experiences, the band craft lyrics highlighting the vulnerabilities of creativity, destructive friendships and coping with the ailments of those they love.
In “Fade Out” Schellenberg unhinges a cacophonous onslaught of desperate noise as he grapples with his business partner’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and blindness in both eyes after a four year fight with his auto-immune illness. Encompassing sensory imagery with brief yet direct lyrical assertions compliments their urgent channeling of energy in their record, stating “It’s echolocation now / Arms stretched / And our eyes are closed now / Fade out.”
Tracks like “Disappointment” and “Will Know” contrast mirror images of certainty with the polar opposite, as Schellenberg’s biting vocals scream out, “I want everything / I want nothing” or “I won’t fail / I will fail.” The track is a psychological unraveling of identity and an attempt to grab onto a semblance of structure when it’s constantly crumbling between your fingers. The seeming simplicity of Tunic’s dark themes dig to the root of their despair and raw anguish rather than undermines the sincerity of their emotional anxieties.
Approaching with a more brooding introduction is “Radius,” a slowed down pulse of Unger’s percussive slams yet doesn’t disappoint with their notorious frenzied screams and speed towards the latter half of the track.
Processing the record in its entirety may feel simultaneously like a cathartic and a pulverizing experience.
The band’s incessant energy is not only displayed on their record but in their perseverance when it comes to live shows and being on the road. Hopefully it won’t be too far in the future until Tunic can announce a proper tour release; a much needed taste of the dynamic and visceral experience we’ve all been missing.
Essential Tracks: “Fade Out” and “Radius”