Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds

16 are back with the follow-up to their excellent reunion album Bridges to Burn. It’s a decent successor, if a little disappointing. Good enough on its own, Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds isn’t as memorable as their last outing and doesn’t measure up to the band’s earlier work. It’s more aggressive, more direct in its noisy Helmet-meets-Slayer grooves, but not as notable as their earlier work. The band’s signature atmosphere of frustration and angst has been shorn off by an unnecessary layer of distortion on the vocals, an effect that contributes to familiarity between songs when giving the album a full listen.

“Opium Hook”, “Ants in My Bloodstream” and “Theme from Pillpopper” are classic 16, sounding like Helmet with a serious addiction to downers. Touches of hardcore, punk and noise rock appear here and there, along with a few dissonant leads. Vocalist Cris Jerue sounds quite different this time around, his vocals coated in a layer of effects not unlike those used on Blaze of Incompetence. The riffs are a bit more straightforward and aggressive and Jerue’s distorted vocals contribute a load of menace and anger.

There’s a feeling of familiarity here though. With the band set firmly on “Kill”, there’s less variation between the songs. It’s not just the riffs that make Drop Out a classic, it’s the palpable sense of frustration and depression that goes along with feeling like a chronic fuck up. The horrible realization that you’re unable to help yourself, the black hole of self medication and the bitterness that goes along with it are essential to their sound. The vocal effects dampen the range and nuance of Jerue’s voice and the emotion is subsequently deadened.

Deep Cuts… is a little disappointing both as a follow up to Bridges… and an addition to 16’s canon. Disappointment though it may be, it’s still a pretty good album. It’s a focused blast of anger that lacks the character of the earlier albums, but nevertheless has some killer riffs and good songs. Its singular focus may be a problem, but perhaps only in relation to their earlier output.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
August 7th, 2012


  1. Commented by: Evildeadjay

    Awesome review, but I’ll tell you what, this edged out Bridges for me. This album felt even more despondent, and burnt out on bad dope. The last track alone made it worth the full price I paid.

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