Review Summary: Unconscionably unsung masterpiece of pummeling pyromania
While I often decry the stultifying effects of Christian culture, I can't help but have some deep admiration for the fervent passion of Christ's innumerable acolytes. In the wrist nailing album "Plastic Soul Impalement", the passion of the Christ(ian) is unleashed in a numinous and unhinged cacophony. This is a truly flabbergasting album that will beat you raw like a roid raged youth pastor with a spiked bat.
Critics usually label this album as metalcore but noisecore is a much more apt term. It does have the ferocity of death metal and the raw violence of Black Flag, but there is also a heavy influence from the hateful noise rock of a band like Today is the Day. One thing is for sure: no other metalcore OR noisecore band sounds quite like this (if you can disprove me please let me know). Early Coalesce is the closest reference point, and that band is indeed an audible influence. However, this is much more dynamic and nuanced than an album like "Give Them Rope, She Said".
"Plastic Soul Impalement" is not full of riffs so much as it is full of churning waves of noise. Songs are not technical and the structures are relatively simple, but this is not straightforward at all. The drummer and the guitarists often play around the beat and against the beat. There is a heavy element of groove, but it is a delirious and disorienting type of groove. Sometimes the rhythms are blasting, but the blasts are accents rather than all out blast beats. The music can be mid tempo and it can be very fast, but it is always extremely intense.
No song sounds the same (though traditional music listeners would doubtless claim otherwise), and the variance in dynamics is extremely impressive. I'm not talking about soft to loud dynamics, though there are a few softer parts on the album. What I'm really referring to is the way that the music maintains an unrelenting and feverish intensity without getting trapped in monotony (as Coalesce sometimes does). Vocalist Ryan Clark finds subtly different ways to flay his vocal chords, and he screams with such soul stirring vehemence that he never becomes tiring.
Only one song makes use of actual melody ("Burning Match in Hand"), but sometimes the songs incorporate an almost operatic grandiosity that is reminiscent of "Souls at Zero" era Neurosis. That element is subtle, but it is definitely there. The Neurosis influence is also evident in the three ambient noise/drone pieces that are spread out through the album.
No other musical work makes me grit my teeth and seethe with fury quite like this one, and I listen to a lot of intense and chaotic music. In one way I wish that this band had released another album similar to this, but on the other I realize that this kind of unbridled furor can't influence an artist for too long, lest he lose his sanity entirely. TFU would go on to release a stellar split EP with Zao and one other excellent full length, but both sounded very different from this. The Clark brothers, who led the band, later formed Demon Hunter, which is a good band, but significantly less intense.
Yes, the lyrics are extremely zealous and downright self-righteous. That is ok with me because that zealotry contributes to the passionate furor of the music. As an 18 year old encountering this album 10 years ago, these sounds were revelatory. As a 28 year old heathen, I am no less enraptured. Furthermore, these guys may be Christians, but their music does not exactly evoke feelings of peace and love. Violence and hate is more like it.