Review Summary: frightening
As you may have guessed based simply on the album art, Burn Idols’ full-length debut is a dizzyingly dark and morose affair not far from the confines of metal and hardcore punk that leaves little room to think, let alone breath. What you may not have guessed is that Theodicy
is also a poignant exercise in duality and dynamism that leaves astoundingly little room for critique.
The most egregious display of this duality, which combines aspects of hardcore, doom and grind into one, disgustingly heavy package, comes in the vocals. The band infuses booming, guttural vocals that are expertly paired with acidic, screamo screeching. What’s much more impressive than the simple inclusion of these details is the execution of them. The two combine into a hybrid monster that creates a very narrow and aimed, crushing aura. This follows suit perfectly with the rest of the album, a trend noticeable not far into the ordeal.
The dynamism of Theodicy
isn’t on display in the first track “Anchored In Pain, Dead To The World,” which teems with static and dishearteningly slow doom metal chords. Though upon the introduction of “This Sterile Ethic Breathes,” the true atmosphere of the album asserts itself, and its heaviness is unrelenting. Of all the poignant moments of depravity and atmosphere, perhaps the most outstanding of these is performed on “It Fosters A Disconnection.” When the music drops out, background static and all, the band lets more than a few seconds pass before launching into a joint screaming heyday. It demonstrates that this hybrid the band employs indeed works. Imbuing doom and grind with screamo aspects could have been an ugly cun
t of an album better left for the garbage disposal, but the mature, captivating Theodicy
is anything but.
Where their maturity shines darkest is in Burn Idols’ songwriting. By performing a chief balancing act between the moments of cathartic thickness and more sparse instrumentation which is accompanied only by static and lone doom chords, the band yields a sound well beyond their years. I think that this control and attention to detail, especially in balancing the instrumental scarcity and vocal chaos, is an often overlooked property, and is what propels Burn Idols from a “band with a cool sound,” to a band that should be essential listening for the new year.
If there is something to critique Burn Idols for, and there is, it can be pointed out in the lyrics. While certainly sordid and melancholy, decrying against the general hopelessness and melancholy of life, they do little to add another dimension to the album. The bleakness is evident enough amid the Orchid-esque chaotic screeching and the Corrupted-esque pounding guitars-- the lyricism doesn’t detract from this but it doesn’t necessarily add to it, either. In summation, this critique is more of Burn Idols setting exceedingly high standards for themselves with every other aspect of Theodicy
and merely achieving “well” here instead of “breath-taking.”
And breath-taking is exactly where Theodicy
falls, as a whole. Music of this variety tends to lumber with a cumbersome drawl, bogged down by its own weight. Not Burn Idols. Because of the infusion of different styles and a balanced pace throughout, it is a lively affair, an effect that is furthered by a rather short runtime of just topping twenty minutes. If there ever was an album more perfect to ring in the “year of the apocalypse,” I can’t imagine it; Burn Idols’ Theodicy
is a frighteningly adept journey deep into abysmal depths of heaviness, but keeps the ride moving the entire time.