INTENSIVE CARE - That We Be Made Worthy LP
Trauma surrounds us. Underneath the scars in its wake, it leaves truth. Intensive Care excavate harsh honesty from life’s moments of wreckage. Bottling raw intensity, screams tremble through a warped industrial cacophony as they engage a sonic sensory overload. The Toronto duo—Andrew Nolan [vocals, bass] and Ryan Bloomer [drums, percussion]—grab trauma by the throat and translate it into nine gutturally gnashing anthems on their Closed Casket Activities debut, That We Be Made Worthy.
“We’re really influenced by early electronic and experimental music, but we grew up in hardcore and Metal bands,” notes Andrew. “It’s grounded in heavy music, but it’s really exploratory. We’re using drums, bass, and the tools at our disposal to create something of our own.”
The friendship between Andrew and Ryan dates back to the late nineties when they met via the international tape trading scene. With Andrew in the UK and Ryan in Toronto, music bridged the distance and forged their friendship. They made waves together in The Endless Blockade before introducing Intensive Care during 2016 with the Pay Pig EP. They delivered projects at a prolific pace, including Voyeurism EP  and A Removal To Elsewhere EP  in addition to various singles and a split with Full of Hell. Throughout 2020 and 2021, they wrote and recorded That We Be Made Worthy out of home studios in Toronto. This time around, piano and electronics offset moments of harsh catharsis, adding another dimension.
“We really brought the electronic influence to the forefront,” he affirms. “We pushed it and made this side more musical.” A feverish siren squeal bleeds into “Behind Every Closed Door” as a trudging groove bolsters the frontman’s pummeling delivery. Surveying his time employed at a harm reduction for homeless adults in the throes of the opioid crisis, the chant hits hard, “Behind every closed door, a corpse not yet discovered, behind every closed door a memory waits to live again.”
“Six months after I left the job, I realized I had this underlying trauma,” he admits. “Every single time I opened a door, I would get flashes of a corpse on the other side, because that’s what I was constantly finding.”
Thematically, he drew inspiration from the Catholic Saint of Amputation—Saint Antony of Padua. As such, imagery of amputation doubled as a metaphor for imbalances of power, race relations, and labor rights throughout That We Be Made Worthy. The snarling and biting “Taxonomy of Rats” dissects “the history of disadvantaged people in society referred to as vermin.” Then, there’s “Incisors,” which layers the “fight for respect and recognition in the workplace” over a chaotic din. The seven-minute finale “At The Foot Of The Mountain” tempers a primitive groove with the expanse of UK doom as it reinterprets the myth of Sisyphus as told by Albert Camus.
“It’s a strange ending to the album,” Andrew elaborates. “It’s supposed to be equal parts victorious and defeating. The refrain in the song is ‘No victory is final’. We keep saying that because you think you won, but you have to keep doing these things and pushing the boulder up the hill.”
In the end, Intensive Care climb out of the trauma and towards an artistic triumph of their own. “We’re always looking ahead,” Andrew leaves off. “We keep our eyes on what we’re doing.”
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