The Dead Mantra
Saudade Forever


4.5
superb

Review

by Dean M. CONTRIBUTOR (25 Reviews)
July 4th, 2018 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: At once a phenomenally affecting blend of disparate influences and a testament to the still-uncharted possibilities of lo-fi.

It’s both surprising and understandable that, since 2008, so few musicians have taken significant influence from Have a Nice Life’s Deathconsciousness. On the one hand, the lo-fi production that Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga employed was simple (essentially just taking black metal production techniques and putting them in a non-metal context), cheap, and easy for any musician to replicate, especially since the band listed their equipment in the liner notes; yet these techniques had a jaw-dropping effect, making an album that was recorded in an apartment sound like it was reverberating off the walls of a massive auditorium. On the other hand, Deathconsciousness was also massive in many other respects, an 85-minute behemoth of an album that combined so many disparate genres as to be near-unclassifiable and was accompanied by a 70-page booklet diving into its complex, heady, mysterious concept. If you’re a new band looking to Deathconsciousness for inspiration, just where the hell do you take that"

Perhaps Have a Nice Life first had to release The Unnatural World and scale back their intellectual excesses, but it seems that other bands are finally figuring out how to take elements of Have a Nice Life’s lo-fi sound and build them into something new. I first noticed this development with last year’s Pendulum by Alter, which used similar production techniques to enhance its brand of grimy, somber shoegaze. And now French band The Dead Mantra has taken the baton for their sophomore effort, Saudade Forever.

Like Deathconsciousness, Saudade Forever claims a striking variety of generic influences, but its unique blend of genres bares sharper teeth and leaner legs than its spiritual predecessor. The title track propels itself through tumultuous post-hardcore crescendos, starting at a deliberate pace and then erupting into a steadily vigorous stampede. “Luxury Shopping” centers around an electronic drone that grows to an ear-splitting cacophony as the vocalist roars in static fuzz. The Dead Mantra sometimes pulls back the reins and deliver something more subdued, as with the post-punk groove of “Lately” and the glacial, gloomy closer “Window,” yet they manage to do so without losing the album’s taut energy.

The Dead Mantra also excels at transforming and embellishing the genres that form their sound in fresh and exciting ways. This skill is perhaps best exemplified in standout track “The Ropes.” The chorus of “The Ropes” is simple yet effective shoegaze, solemn and densely layered for maximum emotional impact. The verses, however, are something else entirely, built on a sparse foundation of a crooked drum beat and an unusually crisp bass riff. The contrast between the two is immediately striking, and makes the track as a whole infectious and memorable. Saudade Forever is full of these idiosyncratic gems.

What pulls it all together, makes the album feel cohesive despite jumping between genres and influences, is the production, that paradoxically immense lo-fi sound that Have a Nice Life pioneered. It has much the same effect here as it did on Deathconsciousness, except that Saudade Forever is less than half as long. So, rather than making an already gigantic, cerebral epic feel even bigger, the production on this album transforms thirty-seven minutes of disparate sounds into a vast yet intimate journey. Beyond just a phenomenally affecting blend of influences, Saudade Forever is a testament to the still-uncharted possibilities of lo-fi.



Recent reviews by this author
Inter Arma Sulphur EnglishAstronoid Astronoid
Muscle and Marrow LoveHIRS Friends. Lovers. Favorites.
Marmozets Knowing What You Know NowFever Ray Plunge
user ratings (7)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2018


1099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the album is free on bandcamp, so you really have no excuse not to check it out: https://thedeadmantra.bandcamp.com/album/saudade-forever

Digging: Inter Arma - Sulphur English

Hawks
July 4th 2018


69379 Comments


Def gonna jam this. m/

Digging: Remete (AUS) - Into Endless Night

Papa Universe
July 4th 2018


20588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You beautiful bastard, ya did it!

Digging: Haimad - The Return

AsleepInTheBack
July 4th 2018


5956 Comments


Fab review. Just kinda wanna check out Deathconsciousness now though

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2018


1099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i mean if you haven’t checked out Deathconsciousness yet, that should definitely be your first priority

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
July 6th 2018


2503 Comments


ehh this doesn't sound that much like deathconsciousness which is fine! but the review is unduly heavy on a tenuous comparison

Digging: Jakob Ullmann - Fremde Zeit Addendum 5

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
July 6th 2018


1099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah i worried i was gonna be the only one who thought the comparison was warranted. but i stand by it, i think it's perfectly apt and it's a big reason the album resonated with me

TheSpaceMan
July 6th 2018


11917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, i just want to say that you spend more time on Have a Nice Life then this band, and the comparison between the two is a stretch beyond the post-punk/shoegaze amalgam.



you run into the problem where basing a review so heavily on a comparison of a separate band forces one of the following:



1. alienates an audience unfamiliar with HaNL who gain little to nothing from this piece



2. creates distrust to an audience who does not like HaNL and thus finds your opinion hard to listen to



3. preaches to the choir of an audience who loves HaNL and thus wastes time explaining an album they're familiar with despite wanting to know more about Dead Mantra

TheSpaceMan
July 6th 2018


11917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thats just my advice though



do wanna say im super glad you reviewed this and enjoyed it so much. these guys are on the same label that put out the vinyl issue for The Silver Album by The December Sound (the best album of all time) which is how i found them,and i'm really glad i did

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
July 6th 2018


1099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gotcha, i can definitely see what you mean. thanks for the feedback

TheSpaceMan
July 6th 2018


11917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah no problem, review is otherwise well written



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy