Jacob Bannon and Jon Chang are two admired, well-known vocalists in their respective scenes. Not only are they both in incredibly talented bands with other, equally talented musicians, but they are both the defining point and sound of their bands (Bannon with Converge, and Chang with Discordance Axis). They use a high pitched scream that is unearthly, haunting, and shocking. They are both always unintelligible in their way of shrieking, but their lyrics prove fascinating. However, as the last four seconds of Vertigo Index, this albums’ first song, draw near, you will know which vocalist is better.
John Chang has an absolutely horrifying voice. It is eviler, scarier, and more devastating than most anything
you will ever encounter. If you were to sit and listen to a continuous scream from him for just one fifteen-minute session, you would go deaf. You would have shattered eardrums. Have no sense of sound. You simply would just not hear anymore. Of course, you would be in agony and sorrow from this fact, but the case that you wouldn’t hear anything is only half the point. You would thirst for more of this enraged, untamed animal that are the sounds of Changs’ lungs expelling the angriest air ever conceivable. You would thirst, but could not be quenched. This is the main reason why you would be devastated.
As such, the music is also just as wild, caustic, and angry. Usually, I hate going backwards in a band’s catalogue. I don’t want it to ruin the band for me, or the first album I’ve heard from Band X. Because, when I first got into this band, I checked out the masterpiece The Inalienable Dreamless first. I thought it would be boring. Uninspired. Not my thing…. Well, obviously, I was wrong on all accounts. Thus when I obtained this one, Jouhou, I was skeptical for the reasons mentioned above, but upon finishing my first listen, I felt like a complete ass
. I was proven wrong twice, because Jouhou feels like much the same band, with the same mindsets and values as were evident on The Inalienable Dreamless.
Punishing, suffocating, and all the more addictive, Jouhou is, as said, a familiar album in terms of feelings compared with The Inalienable Dreamless. But there are plenty of moments to give it it’s own face and brain. Least of which is the sound. The mix is dirty and murky a bit, but this doesn’t detract – infact, it makes the intensity better in some strange way. There are also different musical exploitations explored within the album, even different from those found in The Inalienable Dreamless. A colourful album in grindcore is like an oasis in the Sahara, but Discordance Axis make it seem easy. Also, the amount of detail and intricate weavings, the amount of thought
, that goes into each and every song is incredible. My favourite, however, is the memorable catchiness and relapse power it holds, with key songs (i.e. songs of pure, unadulterated genius) everywhere. As with their last opus, Discordance Axis make an experience, one that many will want to keep going on and on.
And while the guitar tone may not be as sharp as one would like, or the drums not as thick, Jouhou has makes up for ‘lack of quality’ (used very loosely) in sound for instrumental poweress. Nearly everything said beforehand can be applied to the musical and songwriting approach to Jouhou; the intricacy, the abundance of creativity, how it all weaves together to make a stronghold of top-of-the-line grind…. Everything is here to make an essential album. But still, there are some rough spots.
Unlike their pinnacle of excellence, this album, Jouhou, has a bit of flaws. I wish I could say the only reason why this is not a five star is because The Inalienable Dreamless exists, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Most of the songs on the first half of this twenty-nine minute, thirty-two track record has an annoying sound of “Whooooooooooop!” at the beginning. It is not music, or ‘atmosphere’, just a sound made whenever the master tapes were handled. Another annoying tidbit is the use of one-two-three-four drumstick count, also in major use within the first half of this album. Believe me when I say this: I know these aspects are nitpicky, and believe me when I say I felt stupid for typing them. They are easy to ignore, but they are still there, making the bumps minor but accountable.
Listening to Discordance Axis, however, takes a lot. You have to be, or rather pretend to be, prepared for what devastations will be at hand, and how much Jon makes Bannon look like a gaping cat snatch. Senses will be blundered, minds will be vaporized, and ears will beg for more of what comes out from this three piece grind machine from New Jersey.