Review Summary: a melting pot of things that shouldn't mix but end up making a fresh flavor anyway
Music is constantly giving way to new sounds and sub genres, and just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t. The first thing that came to my mind when listening to this was how refreshing it is. It mixes Blues, Black Metal, and even some electronic. Sprinkled throughout this LP are also vocal samples from “Negro Spirituals”. Negro Spirituals are described mostly as Christian songs that were made by African slaves in the United States that depicted Christian oral tradition and the hardships of slavery. Since having a musical instrument was very uncommon, (singing was their only musical avenue at the time) they made simple stomp or clap beats to accompany the chants and choral arrangements. It all sounds wonderfully experimental in concept; but does it work?
The album itself is pretty short at under 25 minutes and it really goes all over the place. It begins with the title track and it starts with men chanting and instead of clapping for a rhythm, it utilizes the sounds of the chains and shackles that they wear as a beat. Pianos join and then some tremolos are thrown in there, giving this track a more post rock feel than black metal. It’s woven with good emotion and one of the better tracks on here. At first, I was getting a little worried that the trems were just a gimmick to label themselves as black metal. But the second track reassured me at the very start, that there really is some black metal influence. There is still soulful vocals but they’re accompanied by some black metal screams and double bass. And throughout this track there is a very unnerving chant that echoes , “burn the young boy, burn him good”. Despite this LP being on the more insouciant side of things, some of the subject material is eerie and kind of unsettling in a both obvious and imperceptible way at the same time. Most of the chants in this are calling to Satan himself by such misery stricken people is haunting in itself for sure. This unconventionality and uncertainty really gives this an underlying edge that was perhaps maybe unintentional. This factor also makes the music even more unusual than it already is, generally because there are three instrumental tracks throughout this short LP, and the first one honestly really caught me off-guard and I erupted into laughter when I first heard it. Not necessarily because it’s super bad, but I find it kind of silly. Especially because the first of the three instrumentals really stands out amongst everything else in an awkward way, even including the other two more somber instrumentals. It’s cool on its own, I can dig it, as it sounds like a reworking of an ethnic/Middle Eastern song. Just not here, which may be pretty astonishing to sound out of place on an album where everything is so haphazard.
One of the greatest detractions for me is that the black metal influenced parts are really low in the mix. The drums and guitars really lack the punch they could have, I also feel like some of these parts are shoehorned in just because, and aren’t organically integrated into the music. At times these parts really play a nice contrast to the rest of the music and compliment it as well. But almost every song that has vocals (except for one track towards the end) has the black metal thing going on and it sometimes comes off as feeling forced. The actual clean spoken vocal performances do deserve praise though, as they are one of the highlights of this whole project. If you have a keen ear for the weird, avant-garde, and sometimes cheesy sounds this has, you’ll enjoy it. You can tell they really were trying to do something different and unique with this and that alone is commendable. The execution could have been better, but I can expect great things from this guy(Manuel Gagneux)in the future.
It’s such a short listen and really is fresh despite its missteps. The track ‘Come on Down’ is my personal favorite on here by a long shot because it seamlessly mixes all their ideas and sound into this one track, and having the best instrumentation on the whole LP. I know this is taking a thematic approach but a tad bit more cohesion would have been nice with what they had to work with, but it all works fairly well. And it shouldn’t work in all honesty, but it is oddly cathartic and satisfying to hear such a incongruous project come into fruition at all