Portrayal of Guilt
Let Pain Be Your Guide


4.0
excellent

Review

by Claire Q. STAFF
November 12th, 2018 | 198 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cruel mischief

It’s not immediately obvious, the streak of cruel mischief that Let Pain Be Your Guide and its blackened hardcore wear. At first glance, it does no more, and also no less, than expel in agony the ugly contents of its stomach (literally; note the retching at the end of “Your War”). The lyrics appear to be straightforward accounts of hopelessness and suffering. The performances are vehement; searing riffs, shrieks, and blast beats meet sludgy slowdowns and alarmingly low growls, all grounded by remarkably intricate and diverse drumming.

The point on vehemence becomes surprisingly important, reaching beyond any implications for Portrayal of Guilt’s technical abilities. After many, many listens, I kept wondering why the terms “over-the-top” and “enthusiastic” were popping up in my head despite their ill-fitting connotations — the former suggesting that the music is somehow maudlin, sickeningly emotional, and the latter simply being too cheery for an ostensibly bleak album. But I couldn’t shake off the sense that Let Pain Be Your Guide was disturbingly energized. Maybe it was the way “Daymare” leapt into existence, a dead horse somehow still galloping. Maybe it was the seductive grooves on “Among Friends” and “A Burden”; an unusually optimistic-sounding riff in “Life Holds Nothing”; the punctuating gutturals on what should have been a song of respite, “Chamber of Misery (Pt. II).”

A comparison to two peers may be revealing. Totem Skin could be perceived as “energetic”, Plebeian Grandstand as “bleak”; interestingly, both terms can also be applied to Let Pain Be Your Guide. The difference, I think, is that in the aforementioned two bands, those characteristics wear earnest faces — they demand to be taken seriously, at face value if you will. Let Pain Be Your Guide, on the other hand, parades its outpourings, intentionally amps up the doom and gloom to near-excessive levels, and what it directly presents may not be what you are supposed to feel. In this sense, the album exploits pain and suffering, but is not itself an earnest portrayal of how it feels to experience those things. Listening to Let Pain Be Your Guide is akin to peering into the mind and machinations of a cruel puppet-master, not to an act of sympathizing with the downtrodden. Visible string-pulling may be seen as contrived, but it is the very spectacle on display here — there’s a mockery being made of the notion of conjuring bleakness and willing your audience to feel it. But this mockery isn’t necessarily earnest, either; Portrayal of Guilt tread close to what they may be satirizing, and they may be very well laughing at themselves.

And perhaps it’s because of disingenuousness that Let Pain Be Your Guide is an evasive work — what are we supposed to feel, exactly? If letting ourselves be overcome by the bleakness is too mindless and melodramatic, then what else? Sadistic enjoyment in watching embodiments of pain getting caged and displayed? At any rate, I’m not even sure if the listener escapes censure — they are, after all, complicit in an absurd scheme.



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user ratings (176)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Papa Universe
November 12th 2018


22505 Comments


portrayal of EXCITEMENT!

XingKing
November 12th 2018


15099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love the energy this record has

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2018


12486 Comments


Swell

SteakByrnes
November 12th 2018


18688 Comments


Great review Claire, can't wait to jam this

supremejelly
November 12th 2018


1181 Comments


Well this review has made me very intrigued

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calmrose
November 12th 2018


5654 Comments


this slays

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SowingSeason
Moderator
November 12th 2018


34355 Comments


Very well written review. You're an impressive writer.

Digging: The Airborne Toxic Event - Hollywood Park

clavier
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2018


1097 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks sowing!

Digging: Rina Sawayama - Sawayama

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
November 13th 2018


19560 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"At any rate, I’m not even sure if the listener escapes censure — they are, after all, complicit in an absurd scheme."



Hot damn, Claire, impressive review.

Digging: Triana - Un Encuentro

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2018


3275 Comments


Yeah, wow; this is one of your best, I think.

Digging: Emily Keener - I Do Not Have To Be Good

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
November 13th 2018


12486 Comments


Very well written review. You're an impressive writer.


Hope you guys are shining up a seat in Olympus for her. Just sayin.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
November 13th 2018


16566 Comments


ooo I should try this

Digging: Grey Matter (MI) - Climbing Out

DDDeftoneDDD
November 13th 2018


12017 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Gonna check this

Digging: Cirith Ungol - Forever Black

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2018


11771 Comments


Very cool review Claire. If that Plebeian Grandstand comparison didn't already ensnare me your words would have been enough (: Will check this.

Dinosaur
November 13th 2018


1366 Comments


Wow this is so good. nice dig Scuro!

Hawks
November 13th 2018


73730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wow I need to hear this asap.

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2018


11771 Comments


Cheers Dino, album rules

GhostB1rd
November 13th 2018


6020 Comments


Really like the album art on this on the one hand but am usually turned off by black metal vocals on the other.

Taxt
November 13th 2018


1393 Comments


Great review! I'm stoked for this one

tcat84
November 13th 2018


1297 Comments


The album art does not fit the genre. Not a bad thing.

Also the vocals aren't really in standard Black metal style IMO

They range from hardcore, metalcore, death metal, screamo, black metal vocals... it's a bizarre coctail for me at least

The end of "your war" is very unecessary



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