Less Art
Strangled Light


4.0
excellent

Review

by Claire Qiu USER (30 Reviews)
August 1st, 2017 | 56 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An old vein bleeds again.

Members of Thrice, Kowloon Walled City, and Curl Up and Die came together to release Strangled Light, a child of 2017. And yet it feels as if it’s from another era altogether. It certainly pays homage to an earlier lineage of post-hardcore that melded together introspection and socio-political commentary; Less Art themselves credit Fugazi, Unwound, and Drive Like Jehu as their main influences.

Not to say that Strangled Light isn’t fresh, of course. It’s merely that the past feels so vibrant. All the illumination here, though, is derived from reflections in the coldest snow. Unwound would be the obvious comparison - the guitars of Strangled Light are similarly brittle and haphazardly held together by the glue of dissonance. The air is tense, unforgiving, but biting only reactively. Strangled Light would be a more vicious fighter if it hadn’t already been caught in the throes of hypothermia - as it stands, it’s “a broken man, the kind of person that hurts no one”. Perhaps not physically, no, but anyone with a shred of empathy would perceive, if not straight-up feel, the burden that is crushing the shoulders of Strangled Light. “Shapeshifter” plods on, the heavy final steps of someone close to death, but at the apex of suffering there is a sweet endorphin release; indeed, throughout Strangled Light the pain ebbs and flows, moderated by some combination of numbing feedback and augmented harmony. The riff of “Crushed Out” tries to look towards the sky but sees only hell, such is its tortured upwards movement. There is an urgency to the unrelenting, yet malleable rhythm section; all the tumult has induced a number of mutations, the most prominent one being in “Diana the Huntress”. Nearing its end, it decelerates with such suddenness that it is at risk of flying out through the windshield. Elsewhere, the drums are content to deliver sludgy, heavy-hearted blows, and more quickly if necessary.

The bleeding heart of Strangled Light finds itself pumping lead in the manifestation of the lyrics. How agonized vocalist Mike Minnick sounds, giving auditory form to his inner demons; his vocals are reminiscent of the harsh, atonal style employed by many hardcore bands. There are no abstractions or twisting metaphors, just blunt commentary on personal tragedy and the human condition. It’s so saddening because of how resigned it all is. The premises don’t even have to be accepted for them to invoke a sense of pity: the state of mind of anyone who thinks “We all hate each other and no one gives a fuck / Even though we know it won’t do us any good” is surely depressing in its own right. No solutions are proposed, and no one is sure if any even exist. The external world is rightfully criticised for instances of police inefficacy (see: Diana the Huntress) and senseless killing (see: What Is It In Man), but the most poignant moments are when innermost sentiments are revealed with no trappings and no pretence. The last words of the title track are Strangled Light staring at itself in the mirror: “No one comes back from the dead / Please make it so, we don’t need these sore throats from singing songs about the pain of living and losing someone”. The record looks outward but sees inward, lenses tinted black.

Strangled Light gives bleakness a blanket and room to breathe, even when the self has neither; and the self is irrevocably weaved in with the grand machinations of the world. “This system doesn’t work / The world is better without us / This system doesn’t work / We are better without us”, and yet we fight so hard to assert ourselves. Why? The answer is that there is no answer.



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user ratings (48)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Bloon
August 1st 2017


490 Comments


Real depressing nihilism hours, who up?
Very good review

50iL
August 1st 2017


4018 Comments


Awesome as always Claire-kun

Frivolous
August 1st 2017


71 Comments


I still need to check this, great work Claire!

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Good Time (Soundtrack)

sincerelyaural
August 1st 2017


336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks everyone, and remember, existentialism is always the answer

Toondude10
August 1st 2017


11200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pretty good release, might have to jam this again though I didn't really find anything that wowed me.



good review too

Digging: Leprous - Tall Poppy Syndrome

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2017


17276 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is v v v good nice work claire

need to relisten to this but from what i've heard this is sooo good

Digging: Milo - who told you to think?????!?!???!???!???!

AsleepInTheBack
August 1st 2017


4229 Comments


First few lines read a little rigid to me. Otherwise it's a lovely piece of writing, pos pos pos

sincerelyaural
August 1st 2017


336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank you, originally the first part was structured differently but i shuffled things around. guess the feel doesn't work so well anymore, so i've now changed it

AsleepInTheBack
August 1st 2017


4229 Comments


I get you, it happens. Though of course I'm the only one who thought so, so most likely it's a picky personal point

ianblxdsoe
August 1st 2017


1060 Comments


great work as usual my dude, congrats on the feature

sincerelyaural
August 1st 2017


336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ey, thanks, and gratitude to whoever decided to feature it

LandDiving
Contributing Reviewer
August 1st 2017


1166 Comments


about to read but really fkn great review claire nice work

edit: okay i've finished and this reads so smoothly and the imagery is evocative as heck i am very jealous of your skill ("...tries to look towards the sky but sees only hell, such is its tortured upwards movement." -- seriously what a phenomenal fucking line my guy well done).

FullOfSounds
August 1st 2017


15424 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Grats on the feature!

BlushfulHippocrene
August 1st 2017


1694 Comments


Congrats! well-deserved. I enjoy what you did to the first few lines.

Digging: Lil Peep - Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1

AsleepInTheBack
August 1st 2017


4229 Comments


Yeah much improved first few lines (:

sincerelyaural
August 2nd 2017


336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gratitude sounds and blush!

and indeed, thank you Ben for pointing that out

dbizzles
August 2nd 2017


9402 Comments


If the body barely functions
Let it destroy itself.


Great review. Enjoying this so far.

Digging: Oranssi Pazuzu - Farmokologinen

FreddieDelaney31
August 2nd 2017


3088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This goes fucking HARD

The bass especially is absolutely killer

Also great review and congrats on the feature!

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Good Time (Soundtrack)

sincerelyaural
August 2nd 2017


336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you Dbiz and freddie!

Nikkolae
August 2nd 2017


5160 Comments


why the fuck was I unaware of this?!?

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - Worry.



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