Review Summary: Why does this album rule so fucking much though?
As the first Coaltar of the Deepers record I’ve stumbled upon (by both chance and a long-since-forgotten recommendation), 1998’s Submerge
is a beastly little album in which the musicians involved don’t know if they want to be the next big undiscovered shoegaze auteurs in the East, electronica overlords, or indulge themselves in their pseudo-surf/oriental hardcore/metal tendencies. Described by some to be an album with varied sounds, styles, and textures, Submerge’s
boon is the Coaltar’s way of playing – greatly devoid of delicacy, their music is like a refined aural version of a Jackson Pollock; wildly colorful, scattershot, deep within total abandon, and yet so damn beautiful. One song could be a full-on riff-fest, like the standout “Cell”, while another could go in a traditional direction, with the electronics of “The Breastroke” combining various textural details with classical oriental instrumentation and uniting an organic concept with one that is entirely synthetic.
Being labelled as a shoegaze group, Coaltar does the duty bestowed upon themselves by greatly misleading listeners coming in expecting one singular style by bucking the trend entirely. For what it’s worth, Coaltar of the Deepers are hardly shoegazers at their very core, being more in line with electronica, metal, and alternative rock; they merely have happened to dabble in the shoegaze template and have made it a part of their vast itinerary, only bringing out the array of effects pedals and other oddities whenever they see fit – take “The Lifeblood” for example. As the finale to Submerge
, it surpasses everything that the casual listener would expect from the band after the past 44 minutes or so of listening, being treated to wildly varied types of music beforehand.
“The Lifeblood” ignores all that came before it, legitimizing the claims that Coaltar could really gaze with the best of them, if they chose to. And could you blame the band for not only seeing it fit to cast aside this branding pushed upon them, but to exercise their ability to create such a song to the very last cut on the album" When you have a record packed to the brim with mind-bending masterpieces like the sample-laden “Dl++[delatetei]”, the sludgy “ Tim (Pleasure → Despair)”, and the break-neck riffage of “Submerge” itself, the sparsity of true, unabashed shoegaze goodness – despite it being teased on “Natsunogyouninzaka” and the electronica/alt-rock hybrid “Sazabi” – can be overlooked only thanks to the abundance of astounding music delivered upon us by Coaltar of the Deepers. Yes, even the two brief interludes “Silver World” and “Fuyunogyouninzaka” deserve mentioning as well, transcending from disposable filler nothingness into developmental segues that only add more to the songs that it followed after, and would precede as well.
In a state of certain stylistic metamorphosis, one that seemed to go on for well over a decade (if the career trajectory of the band going into the new millennium has shown us), Coaltar of the Deeper’s sophomore album Submerge
is a portrait of a young group with certain ambition, and with the drive to exceed their limits – not only through idealistic means, but by an aesthetic fashion as well. In the years following Submerge
, Coaltar would evolve into various guises and forms, accommodating the revolving door that would symbolize the band’s lineup and sound. Despite all of that, they truly created something wonderful in 1998; something that kicked ass, chewed bubblegum and unleashed unholy riffage upon all of Japan, whether they gave a damn or not.