Review Summary: An all-around fantastic grindcore record with multiple metal genres' imprints, that will batter, sadden, uplift and surprise - with taste.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
I revere David Cronenberg. His films can suffocate you with the human drama, while being understated, brooding, and occasionally shocking.
To me a great metal album is just as a Cronenbergian film would be – it merges many elements in a non-flaunty way, allowing all its ingredients to play their part, without overstaying their welcome.
The FTFs’ “Die Miserable” is just that. It’s a tight construct of many facets that has all of its building blocks fit – be it in the simple geometric sense, where there are well-defined shapes that just wedge against each other perfectly, or in the seamless merger of the parts, which flow into one another with ease.
As categorized it’s a grindcore album, or dare I say, it has a “grind core”, because from this pillar sprout a plethora of snippets owing to different genres. Death metal, sludge, noise, heavy metal, hardcore, doom, acoustic – all find their place in here, and their presence feels, if not necessary, then welcome. The songs are varied, but remain true to the overall album’s concept and atmosphere. Their structure is elegant and not overblown. They are compact in their form and to the point.
The longest track, “Census Blank”, clocks in at around 7:30 mark, it’s however taking this time to develop an idea. It has a sludge-y intro, which (coupled with vocals) brings Mastodon to mind. It slowly develops, rises the tension, breaks into a somber, sentimental tone(via use of heavy metal riffing), afterwards uplifting to finally erupt and end on a caliginous note that serves as a segue into the next track, whose opening could as well belong on a Forgotten Tomb album. It, however, leads the listener into a dreary place, just to startle seconds after with a sonic onslaught.
There’s much more to the album than I'd so far described; the opening through-and-through grindcore track, the death metal infused follow-up, the triumphant “Lifeless”, doom tinged eponymous track, with a persistent daunting audio loop, dissonant “A Cowards Existence” that morphs into a pure metal song (starring a background xylophone by the sound of it …), and hardcore-induced closer presenting us a declamation in French.
As for the musicianship; it’s very solid. There are no limelight soliloquies. All the musicians have a purpose and specific part to play. Just as the composition, the performances interplay and come together in accord. If anything, the female vocals should be commented on, not because they do not accompany the music well – to the contrary; they make this album the genuine, enraged rollercoaster of a ride that it is. They are, however, tormented to the breaking point. Crusty, volatile, they peak above the backing male roars. They are intense in a way that might turn off the part of the audience not accustomed to the screeching intensity of such acts as Discordance Axis or Gridlink.
Lyrically the album shines as well. It doesn’t always escape the patronizing tone of grindcore, but goes far beyond spouting clichés in vein of “Thou shall not dine at McDonald’s, give in to consumerism and [insert leftist slogan]”. They deal with problems of – in their mind – failed emancipation movement, adjustment disorder, loneliness, cowardice, concerns of one’s public image.
All things considered, the album is a commendable effort, sporting a myriad of influences, while retaining a definite focus. It never strays too far from its roots, but leaves the genre stigmas at distance enough, so it may satisfy virtually anyone with affection for heavy music. Deeply felt, lyrically thoughtful. Intermittently crushing, saddening, comforting, sentimental, vengeful, convicting, elating and exhilarating. Not for the faint of heart, but captivating and thoroughly enjoyable for those, who embrace it.