Review Summary: A landmark in atmospheric music with some ridiculously good tracks and one of the most haunting sounds ever put to record
For a band with such an incredibly short career, Joy Division's impact on the music scene in general is absolutely monumental. They were a group that released just two studio albums, both of which were immensely popular, before they were tragically cut short by the suicide of their lead singer in 1980. The legacy that they left behind is one that has inspired countless young musicians throughout the years through their depressing, bleak and incredibly well put together style of rock music. Few artists can claim to have moved people as much as Joy Division did in as short a space of time as they did.
Their debut studio album was entitled Unknown Pleasures and was released in 1979 to critical acclaim. The first thing that many people will notice about this release is the absolutely incredible bass work present throughout. This is not an album where any member of the band shows off on their respective instrument, keeping a minimalistic feel throughout, but the bass that drives the first track is enough to impress almost everyone. Another factor of this album that is all-so-evident to the masses is the very dark, haunting feel that each track carries. If the introduction to Day Of The Lord does not bring your mood right down to rock bottom then you are not letting this release sink in enough. The pain that their vocalist was going through is all too well reflected by the sounds on Unknown Pleasures.
This is an album where every single member of the band is absolutely integral, with there not being a weak link in sight. The six minute closer to this release is probably the best example of this, with a really horrifying introduction that takes a while to build up and lead into the vocals but when it does this is perhaps the finest track on the album. The drumming on this release is not the most technically talented work ever heard but definitely complements the rest of the instruments, whilst the off-kilter vocal performance contributes so much feeling to the dark, murky lyrical content. Candidate is another really great example of how minimalism is handled well on this release, with the drumming and bass work thumping along at a slow, deliberate pace without any real oomph behind it but still carrying this album.
Joy Division's debut is a stellar work that makes great use of limited technical ability to deliver a landmark in atmospheric music. Whilst many people will no doubt declare this to be overrated to fit in with the hipster lifestyle that so much of society seems to have sunk into, a lot of people will realize that this is the sounds of sheer torment in musical form and it really works.