Review Summary: crunchy nihilism
“It doesn’t really get better, that’s just something they say”, Microwave frontman Nathan Hardy screams in the churning introduction to “The Brakeman Has Resigned”. In a lot of ways, that lyric feels like the mantra for Death Is A Warm Blanket
, a record so wrapped up in distortion and misery that it’s at times almost unrecognizable as the same band that wrote some of their previous emo-pop material.
Throughout its short 30 minute runtime, Hardy cycles through frustration at various aspects of his life; his failing physical health, depressive feelings of irrelevancy, the realization that the rock n’ roll lifestyle he once coveted is driving him into the ground. This is a seriously bleak record, a complete break from the “I’m sad but one day I’ll be OK” sentiment echoed by most of Microwave’s peers.
This emotional turn is reflected in the band’s musical qualities, making Death Is A Warm Blanket
handily the band’s most aggressive and experimental record to date. Quasi-title track “DIAWB” features a straight up noise solo over pummeling, breakneck grooves, the industrial-sounding “Hate TKO” twists and turns through its unconventional song structure, and the aforementioned “Brakeman” could legitimately be mistaken for Norma Jean. The hooks are still there in a big way, though, with “Mirrors” channeling Deftones’ Diamond Eyes
and “Float to the Top” delivering a gigantic 90s-grunge sounding chorus. The overall result is a record that at once sounds nothing and everything like the Microwave of yesteryear.
I’d be remiss not to mention “Pull” and acoustic epilogue “Love’s Will Tear Us Apart”, the album’s centerpiece and arguably the band’s finest work to date. The song flips on its head from placid to deafening effortlessly, and just as quickly as Hardy’s screams are swallowed by noise and distortion, it’s all sucked away as you’re left with Hardy's resigned mumbling of “it’s never gonna get better than this”. Somehow, it’s the lowest moment on an album full of valleys.
For Death Is A Warm Blanket
, honesty over optimism is the name of the game. Instead of telling you things are going to turn out alright, Microwave have opted to sit down next to you and go “yeah, this *** really sucks”. For whatever reason, there’s something strangely comforting about it.