Pale Misery
Black Candles and Gutter Scum. 

Louisiana’s wrathful extreme music scene gets another notch on its termite-gnawed bedpost with this debut album from Pale Misery.  This musically dank, fetid trio rams the spiked gauntlets of black metal down the throat of crust-addled punk all across Black Candles and Gutter Scum’s sickening six tracks.  Goatwhore this is not as precision, tightly-bolted song structure is traded for flickering wisps of melody, mustard gassed d-beats, derelict riffs, raunchy speed thrills, precision sludge bombing and relentlessly strangled vocal screams.  In the modern era they’re the closest kindred of alley dwellers Rats of Reality, Fall of the Bastards, Squalora, Deadwound with maybe a touch of The Black Sorcery. They probably cut their teeth growing up on a tried n’ true mix of Discharge, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Winter and Celtic Frost as well…which I sure as fuck am not going to fault anyone for.

“Devoured” spews into existence in an airless vacuum of feedback and samples that sets the stage for a punk-blasted romp through a dead tree forest haunted by shrieking Norwegian demons.  It’s a runaway carriage led by skeletal horses with buzzing, subsonic riffs breaking their axles atop of plague-bitten d-beats and bass that festers beneath its own ugly blanket of distortion.  Despite the recently thawed flavor of the icy, no frills production both an unholy swell of loudness and frigid textures seep to the forefront of the music.  Devastating snares crest on distant blast beats while the rancid vocal debauchery wails in all of its shrill, epidermis scraping glory.  A breath-stealing, low-hung dirge riff brings in a begotten tinge of Celtic Frost and Winter as the song steamrolls any appearance of sunlight on the way to its hypothermic finale.  The triumphant mid-tempo guitar thrashings, steady rhythmic shuck and the brief melodic soloing that intros “Live Fast and Die” lends a powerful, chest-beating bravado to the rotten in the soul, screaming madness of the vocal/instrumental shakedowns.  It’s sludgy but so over-the-top in its delivery and instrumentation that I could feel my blood boiling with a pleasurable lust throughout each subsequent listen.  They keep the pacing deliberate on this one and never speed things up; the track’s second half is a slab of lardy, weighted blackness led by some front n’ center bass plunges that are so fat they’re like stapling a Christmas ham to a stuffed Thanksgiving turkey and trying to eat the whole fuckin’ mess inside of the song’s 3:32 runtime (without puking on your mother’s commemorative dinner plates, of course).

Harried, pulse-pounding blasts throw the early moments of “No Choice” off of a cliff into a bed of broken glass and ice-hewn stalagmites.  Riffs aren’t so much riffs as they are the sound of chainsaws felling huge oaks with basic rhythm strewn amongst the ear-bleeding saw noises.  A torrent of double-bass, blasts and punk-leaned smashing keeps the percussive presence constantly on the move with sheer speed reaching a nervous breakdown of stop/start feedback squalor.  “The Only Cure’s” noxious acapella sneer-a-thon lead-off gives way to another quickened swath cutter of a song that runs Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing through the bone-chilling meatgrinder that is A Blaze in the Northern Sky.  The difference split is 50/50 down the line with blizzard blown tones freezing cold the frenetic, thrash-y hardcore lunges.  An ethereal, pulsating electronic loop and a singular droning synth back a truly haunting sample on “Quiet,” an intermission track with a surprising amount of worth and ghostly ambience.  Pieces such as this can often end up as throwaway material but there’s something about this one that makes it stick in the mind.  Ending composition “Hope is a Mistake” switches gears completely by unleashing a crumbling, plummeting swing riff that really tips the hat to Pale Misery’s great Louisiana lineage.  Clean guitars set the stage with a whopper of a melodic red herring; the calm thusly traded for a dipping, plodding wall of smoggy guitar-work that lumbers through and plunders the muddy bayou swamps for corpses, only surfacing for air when some harmonized licks quickly appear and then disappear.  Hammering, busy drumming that greases numerous throttling snare fills and heaving downer beats keeps the insanity lively while the bass flattens everything in its path with additional depravity lent by those accursed, cutthroat screams.

Pale Misery fuckin’ trampled me into dust with the abrasive quality of Black Candles and Gutter Scum.  Quantity is replaced by quality violence as the 6 tracks don’t overstay their welcome while providing enough variety to have me anxiously awaiting each one’s successive set of musical snakelike curves and swerves.  Though wretched black metal and oily crust punk are the main course, the utilization of doom-y downshifts, vile sludge muck and roaring thrash help this release stick out from a crowded pack…well-worth a few dedicated listens in my book.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
June 14th, 2019

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