Harlots
This Is the Second Death


4.5
superb

Review

by Dean R CONTRIBUTOR (46 Reviews)
November 2nd, 2016 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


It’s rare for me to have something to look forward to regarding metalcore these days, the genre being pretty artistically spent by this point. I often find myself searching through my ratings for something I might have underestimated the first time around, a search that has been fruitless for the most part. This is one such exception. Originally passing it by in favour of its polished follow up “Betrayer”, I now find myself drawn to it for the very reason I first dismissed it. The previously off-putting and messy production is now alluring due to the way it exemplifies the abrasive nature of the band, giving their unique mix of grindcore, death metal, metalcore and post-metal a fittingly indistinct tone.

Not to say that this wouldn’t pack a punch if it didn’t have such raw production, as Harlot’s approach to metal is one that emphasises the chaotic aspect of the genre with skilful intensity. Blast-beats cascade off each other at intimidating speeds while hellish tones are coaxed out of guitars in a style reminiscent of Zao’s blistering work on “Liberate Te Ex Inferis”. “Remote Coagulation” for example features several moments where a dizzyingly intense effect sounding like a guitar spinning out of control appears, backed up by furiously fluid drumming reminding me of the musical equivalent of a train flying off the rails. The vocal style too is aptly off kilter, consisting of coarse screaming that alternates to fast paced, gruff death-metal style roars at a moment’s notice. Similarly the guitar playing is varied and strays from metalcore-esque chugging and blasts of dissonance to discordant techniques taking cues from all across the extreme metal spectrum. This has the effect of creating the unique mix I mentioned earlier, a concoction of everything from grind to 90s core to death metal.

The ease with which Harlots meld these styles is perhaps the most impressive thing about Second Death, as they never sound particularly clunky or directionless in their execution. The integration of the more melodic and considered approach native to post-metal illustrates this well, as they seamlessly drop into intense climaxes off the back of melodic build ups. For example, “Those Days Seem Several Hundred Years Ago” soars upwards on melodic interplaying guitars and piano notes, its climax degenerating chaotically into the thunderous “Remote Coagulation”. These more melodic moments do wonders for the pacing of the album, giving the listener some space to breathe as well as showing off Harlot’s song writing skills.

However, the eclecticism of Second Death is perhaps best illustrated by the inclusion of two ambient tracks. “Moment of Sickness” abruptly cuts in after a climactic scream and is entirely at odds with the rest of the album. Its nine minutes of sickly, uneasy ambience characterised by a constant rustling and repetitive droning melody, broken up by whirring and twinkling sounds that drift in and out. As the track reaches its end it feebly escalates in tone as if reaching out for something it can’t quite get to, before being swept away and fading into nothingness. For an ambient track its very attention grabbing, reluctant to let your attention wander from its otherworldly atmosphere.

Therefore in a way “Moment of Sickness” isn’t entirely at odds with the rest of the album as it mirrors the strange and unpredictable nature of the band itself. As in, it would be a lot more at odds with the rest of the album if it was a pleasantly drifting ambient track and not a slightly disarming detour. Coincidentally, slightly disarming is how I feel about the album as a whole. It’s a record whose full impact takes a while to properly sink in, partly due to the groggy tone the production applies and partly due to the pure chaos streaked across its forty minute run time. It keeps me slightly on edge throughout, waiting for the next curveball to grab me and make me reassess my presumptions on what metalcore could be. And for something to do that after so long is a nice surprise.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

took me a long to time to formulate my thoughts on this, strange album.



This is on spotify



and free to download along with all the bands discography on bandcamp



https://harlots.bandcamp.com/album/this-is-the-second-death

Digging: Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2016


4864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy shit, I need to get on this based on those recommended artists alone. Neat review too, it's really obvious that this album has impacted you greatly in your writing.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bruh you would love this band





Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

should also mention this from their band bio:



"featuring ex members of Today Is The Day, Dead To Fall, and Eyes Upon Separation. With influences ranging from Discordance Axis and Cryptopsy to Sigur Ros and Don Caballero"

MarsKid
November 2nd 2016


4660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey, it's here!



Love this band so much.

Digging: I Would Set Myself On Fire For You - Believes In Patterns

wacknizzle
November 2nd 2016


14506 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Great review Mort, glad you finally finished it! My feelings about the production are spot on with what you said. Really agree with the whole review, nice job

Digging: Dakhma - Suna Kulto

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2016


12634 Comments


Awesome rev as always mort. pos. think i'll have to check this out.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers guys

owen
November 3rd 2016


4733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

remaster when

Digging: Guerilla Toss - GT Ultra

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 3rd 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

doesnt need one

wacknizzle
November 3rd 2016


14506 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

just turn down the treble a bit and you're good

MarsKid
November 3rd 2016


4660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The production works well here.



It is an interesting debate when it comes to production. I for one generally enjoy albums if they have a sort of raw sound that's not completely clean and polished.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 5th 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

clean production in hardcore and metal seems very counter intuitive to me in general

wacknizzle
November 20th 2016


14506 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I listened to this album for 3 hours straight at work yesterday, and then went home and jammed it again lol

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i plan on jamming their debut soon again because im not that familiar with it

MarsKid
November 20th 2016


4660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Debut is very raw, I love it.

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2016


4864 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's been a good while since I've heard some metalcore that's grabbed me in the way this has. Just an amazingly well rounded package of everything being good.



Those vocals tho

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2016


12638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So glad you dug this man, check their other lps when you get the chance

MarsKid
November 30th 2016


4660 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's remarkable how, despite sounding very similar and playing an alike style for each album in their discography, all three of their releases turned out so incredibly different aesthetically. Their debut is just centered around raw, chaotic instrumentation; Second Death puts more attention to their post-metal chops; then Betrayer opts for Dillinger-esque chaos and less instrumentals.



They all stand out and are all well deserving of praise. Even though I absolutely adore The Woman You Saw..., picking a favorite out of their albums is nigh impossible.



Funny how I've been a fan of these guys for not even a year and I'm completely obsessed with them already.



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