Review Summary: The sounds of improvement
By the mid 1980’s, JG Thirlwell’s main musical project, Foetus
, started to produce a bit of feedback within the American underground music scene, and for good reason. His third album as Foetus, Hole
, is a very solid offering that builds upon the tones and styles of his previous albums. Hole
combines the erratic, goofy experimentation of Deaf
with the contained, focused pessimism of Ache
, creating a truly unique flavor of music that’s almost impossible to label: It’s too cold and mechanical to be pop, but too catchy and entertaining to be industrial.
One thing that makes Hole
automatically better than previous Foetus works is the production; it’s much cleaner. Each instrument is loud and clear, and the synths aren't grating at all to listen to. At this point in time, Thirlwell switched from 8-track studios to 16-track studios, thus giving him more room production wise to expand on his songwriting. To put it short, the switch in studios gives him more opportunities. The best part is: he takes those opportunities.
“I’ll Meet You In Poland Baby” is a real standout that just needs to be mentioned. There is no “traditional” instrument used in this track, instead, Thirlwell simply sings. However, the last second of every sentence sung is repeated, creating an incredibly densely layered a cappella track. Sound samples of sirens, Nazi hate speeches, and army marches are added into the mix, giving a strong backbone to the overall product. The end result is scary, to say the least; the sheer amount of sounds and “vocal layers” created gives off a sense of fear, as if the whole world around you is in war and is just about to fall apart.
A majority of Hole
is satisfying like that, the track “Hot Horse” is also worthy of mention. “Hot Horse” includes an awkward, oddly-timed drum pattern that, upon first listen” sounds absolutely horrible. However, as time goes on, you realize how mesmerizing the song really is. The drum beat echoes throughout your skull, and the chorus includes simple-yet-effective guitar strums that frosts the beat very nicely. “Sick Man” is a jazzy tune about a man drowning in the swamp known as depression; JG’s performance is absolutely phenomenal: he sounds both frustrated and sick at the same time. The instrumentation is great to say the least, the bass is as thick as peanut butter, and the horn section compliments it very well. The song slowly builds up, becoming more bleak and hopeless as time goes on, and results in a humorously messed up conclusion. I’m not gonna say what the last minute is like, though, it would ruin the surprise for you.
includes some incredible stand-outs, it still does have an amount of skippable songs. Mediocre tracks like “Street of Shame” and “White Knuckles” are hidden throughout the record. They’re not necessarily “bad” songs per say, they’re just… vapid. They’re inoffensive tracks that leave little of an impression on you as a listener, ruining the overall experience a little. However, these songs can be easily forgiven due to the fact that the closer track, “Cold Day in Hell”, is absolutely mind blowing.
“Cold Day in Hell” is a song about a man who joins Nazi Germany in World War II as a means to get free food, shelter, and clothing, only to completely regret it later on. As the protagonist watches the deaths of millions of innocent Jewish people right before his eyes, he realizes that he’s
helping the enemy. Sadly, he can’t leave the army, leaving him with a choice: either he stays with the Nazis and keep attacking the innocent, or he commits suicide. “Cold Day in Hell” is absolutely horrifying, lyrics such as “The jig is up/My fate is sealed”
and “I’ve died every night for a thousand years”
are nothing short of hopeless, and it leaves a huge impression on you as a listener. It makes you think about what it must of been like living in that time period, it makes you silent and pale for a moment.
shows JG Thirlwell growing as a songwriter. While boring duds are present, Hole
is nothing short of an excellent album that should be listened to by anyone who’s into stranger forms of music. The production is top-notch, each instrument has room to breath, and the songs are nothing short of breathtaking. Highly recommended.