Review Summary: fitful, adj. - occurring in spells and often abruptly1 of 1 thought this review was well written
For any album with ten tracks clocking in at ten minutes long, grindcore
is the first obvious genre to come to mind. While it's true that Fitful's debut album, Concerning Deterioration, focuses on short bursts like grindcore, it is less worried about speed and more focused on the tasteful integration of intelligence with heavier music. Yes, there are wailing, spastic guitars; yes, there are visceral, pummeling drums; yes, there are shouted vocals; however, there are so many redeeming qualities at work which truly make this album as artistic and elegant as your Radiohead
or Pink Floyd
The subject matter of this release alone is intriguing: each track details the abuse ("deterioration") of ten individuals in explicit detail, and it's made blatantly apparent. The vocals are pained, strained beyond belief, spouting off a combination of vague astrological allusions ("the bow is drawn / affixed to your oculus / the eye of Taurus"
) and upfront confessions of guilt and remorse ("it was selfish of me to feel pain from my suffering / so languid, so livid, so fearful, so fitful"
). These lyrics, while sometimes difficult to decipher, complement the theme of the release by alienating the band from themselves and spewing the inner conflicts of each song's subject. Each track is a personality, both lyrically and literally, bridged together by concise interludes of guitar feedback and radio static.
Musically, each of the band's members are skilled and proficient with their instruments, with the ability to portray the turmoil of each individual perfectly. Unlike most of their contemporaries, there is a greater focus on delivering melodic guitar lines which complement and harmonize with each other in interesting rhythmic ways (i.e. "Keep Siege" and "Deterioration of Self", though each track is a highlight). While both guitarists are skilled, neither takes the obvious spotlight. Likewise, the bassist brilliantly avoids falling to the back of the mix with root notes by playing parts just as complex as the guitarists (i.e. "Celeste"), or even taking the melody, such as the first half of "I Made a Mistake". Perhaps the most skilled of them all is the drummer, who can surprisingly keep up and hold his weight amongst the other musicians, ensuring the ensemble never falls apart.
If anything, the care and attention to detail put into the compositions are commendable. The band rarely rests, with seething melodic lines and ghost notes from both sides of the stereo image. There’s hints of serialism in all the tracks, the most obvious being "Eyelashes", and too many odd time signatures to count. The changes, while abrupt, are so fluid and dramatic that it leaves you scratching your head, warranting a repeat listen. Best of all, when the band breaks into a solid 4/4 (i.e. the second half of “I Made a Mistake”), it just plain rocks.
If you love hardcore, or have an insatiable taste for intelligent music with spunky musicality, give this album a shot. It's definitely one of my highlights for the year, and it could be yours also.