Hostage of Fate

When you are in a band you normally don’t know whether what you are doing is good, bad, great or awful. In my experience, you are just getting together with your mates and killing it as best you can. Maybe, once you have a chance to make a demo or whatever, you start to realize that you have a sound, and maybe you start to emphasize your strengths. Or maybe you just ignore all that and keep it simple.

Either way, you are not trying to make bad music. But you can be so invested in the moment to moment act of playing music that you can miss the forest for the trees. As a musician I get that. I have been involved in enough bands to realize that what I think is awesome to play and what is actually awesome to hear are two different things. You learn to forgive a lot, because you are just as guilty.

As a critic, though, you have a job to do, and no matter how much you are pulling for a band, you have to be brutally honest in your assessment of the band’s output. At the same time you have to be aware of the various esthetic subtleties of the metal genres. And because I am both musician and critic with enough years on this planet to get how great it is for bands to just give it their all and fuck the consequences, I have come to a place where I want to encourage and guide if I can.

I have been sitting on this album for a while. Trying to decide how best to handle this thing. Trying to decide how I actually feel about it. Because I want to like this, or if I can’t, I want to do what small thing I can to encourage the band to maybe try something different or add or subtract something, maybe.

But I don’t like this record, and I can’t see how I can recommend it to the reader.

Let me start with the positives, though. The compositions are promising, falling into an area of crusty hardcore and black metal that, while copiously tread upon by others, lends the minimalist approach of the band some positive cred. I can hear very good songs thoughtfully written in this record, such as “Atlas”, a dark pounder which moves strangely but compellingly. Even the oddly recorded guitar works in this respect, which lacking an audible bass, actually serves to keep the songs strangely interesting.

Now the negatives. The lack of a bass and shoddy production creates a serious issue between guitar and drums. Said issue being the two musicians don’t sound as though they are playing with each other. When the band is chugging along at mid-pace, everything is fine, but if they slow down or speed up, it sounds like the drummer is entirely out of sync. When you only have two instruments, that is a deal killer, and when the production accentuates this by giving the drums a thin sound, it becomes impossible for me to ignore or place into some context. It simply sounds amateurish.

And, unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives for me. There may be a niche that appreciates the chaotic, DIY nature of this sound, and to that I can only say give this a shot. But for the general metalheaded public, this band has too many problems it needs to solve for me to recommend this. If this is their direction, so be it. I wish them the best for their future, and I truly hope they keep after it. But for my own sensibilities, they would need to retool quite a number of things.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Sessions
January 26th, 2017


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