Review Summary: Wicked
Very few bands are able to produce enough material to release a semi-complete discography compilation in only a few years. Not many artists are able to mature musically within that amount of time, either. Pg.99, however, did both within only five years of existence.
Mostly consisting of material from split records and demos, Document #14: The Singles
showcases the band’s musical evolution, but in backwards order. The first half of the disc consists of some of their later, more cathartic recordings. The opening track “Goodbye Face” is an absolute nightmare, the vocals screech just like nails on a chalkboard, and the guitars are noisy and angular. The track builds up to a two-note drone that lasts for around two minutes, leaving the listener dazed, confused, and scared. As the record progresses, the band’s musical evolution becomes more and more clear, “The Lonesome Waltz of Leonard Cohen” features a very dramatic vocal performance, layered on top of haunting, carnival-like instrumentation, with each instrument loud and clear. However, the vocals are a little too ‘melodramatic’, to the point that they become a little grating to listen to after a while.
While the first half of the album is very strange and chaotic, the second half is actually relatively simple. There’s more of a grind to these older tracks, as evident by “More Complicated than a Sci-Fi Flick”. The guitars are crunchy and distorted, and the vocals are gritty and grimey. “Not as a body/ Not as a mind/ Not as a sex but as a human soul!”
, they growl, with no sense of fear in their voice. That’s the biggest reason why the second half of the record is the best: The power. At no point do they sound bored, scared, or weak, relentless and furious tracks such as “Mary Get Your Knife” and “A Classic Case of…” absolutely crush you with the sheer amount of power they hold. While there are a couple of differences between the two halves of the album, they definitely have one thing in common: The instrumentation is great.
The bass guitars almost never follow the guitars, and they’re not hard to hear even when the audio quality is crap. The guitars are like giant slabs of anger, they get in your way and absolutely destroy you with their heaviness. The vocals, while relatively hard to distinguish during the second half, have their own personalities: Blake Midgette has a really grimey, dirty tone to his voice, while Chris Taylor’s are a little more clear, but shrill. Both vocalists bounce off each other, leaving a very big impression on the listener. The greatest thing about the band members are their ability to combine and make some amazing tracks. For example, “Diagram for a Suicide”.
Here, the track revolves around an open note bassline. As time goes on, guitars are thrown into the mix, giving atmosphere to the song. Midgette and Taylor’s vocals flood the song, layering it. Each instrument fits into the track, like a jigsaw puzzle, creating a very haunting, upsetting tone. As great as this track is, however, it cannot beat the closer “A Gun”.
The guitars are unapologetically violent, they attack with full force and absolute strength, and not once do they let go of their grip. The drumming is messy and scrappy, and the vocals reak of absolute passion. The best part? This is only the first two minutes. Half way through the song, there’s an epic breakdown: The guitars build up, becoming more and more tense as time goes on, and the bass only adds a strong backbone. It all climaxes to the infamous words: “How should I know? I’m just a ***ing gun!”
. The guitars become high pitch and stressful and the vocals become more frantic than ever, slowing down every second, until finally ending. This leaves the listener in state of awe, leaving only one question one their mind: “Where can I hear more?”
Pg.99 were a band composed of friends who knew exactly how to write songs and have fun at the same time. Even during dull moments of their career they made nothing skippable. Document #14: The Singles
acts as an abridged history of the band, how they ended and how the started. Screamo as a genre gets a bad rap, however I guarantee you that if you were to show this album to someone unfamiliar with the genre, they will automatically become way more interested in it.