Review Summary: A psychedelic and schizophrenic journey into the mind of Joey Brown that manages to impress despite its flaws.
When listening to Now and Forever
, the thing that stands out to me the most is Joey Brown’s ambition. He is the one man operation behind Aeterna Tristitia and the music he creates is as unique as the band name. While not every song is executed perfectly and some are affected by weak production, the album as a whole is highly ambitious and sometimes even surprising. Drawing influences from various bands and genres, but most notably, Swans, the listen is a psychedelic ride into the unknown.
Crafting all the music from the comfort of his bedroom, Brown’s work on Now and Forever
isn't without its flaws, but it manages to posses a feeling of raw creativity. The instrumental opening track paints a rather clear picture of what to expect from the album as it slowly builds up tension into the next song. It does this by playing the same notes repeatedly which gives the listener an uneasy feeling before they are hit with the more relaxed ‘Dico Vobis.’ Although it’s slower paced, Brown’s vocal work is often schizophrenic, especially in the second half of the song as he often changes the register of his voice without warning. There are some slight inconsistencies in the vocals, but for the most part his performance matches the bi-polar sound he was likely going for.
Apart from his ominous vocals, Brown uses his guitars and keyboard to craft a multitude of sounds that range from haunting to beautiful, and often both. A perfect example would be ‘Shadow Song’ as he blends eerie, somewhat indecipherable vocals with atmospheric keyboard effects. As fascinating as the song is, however, it’s the mere fact that it doesn’t drag on once throughout the entire five minutes that speaks volumes for Brown‘s ability to craft a great tune. In fact, two minutes into the song everything changes as he ditches the vocals for some tribal like drumming (produced by the keyboard) alongside some of the most emo-driven guitar-work on the album. Another definite standout is ‘Duality’ which is just as impressive as ‘Shadow Song’ as Brown intricately toys with different sounds, but never sounds unfocused. It also contains some of his most guttural vocals on the entire album which help spice up the song without feeling overdone. However, one of the most unexpected moments is found in the album’s final track ‘No Closure.’ At first, it doesn’t sound overly exciting, until the song reaches the 3 minute mark and Brown lets out some frantic and raspy screams. It’s not the album’s best offering, but it’s a fitting way to close out such a moody release.
Now and Forever
is an album designed for the patient listener. While a few songs tend to drag a bit, there are certainly some hidden gems in the bunch. The production is hard to get past at first, especially in certain areas, but this flaw alone isn’t enough to destroy the album. There is more than enough engaging material buried beneath the layers of Aeterna Tristitia’s debut to warrant a listen. Whether you’re a fan of post-rock or are looking for a more psychedelic listening experience, there seems to be something for everybody on Now and Forever
, if they’ll just give it the time and patience it deserves.