HEALTH
DISCO4 :: Part II


4.2
excellent

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
April 7th, 2022 | 25 replies


Release Date: 04/08/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dark and at times beautiful, Part II is an excellent conclusion to this ambitious and sprawling project.

Disco4 :: Part I was a fairly big surprise for me when it first came out. It wasn’t because I had any doubts about HEALTH’s abilities, it was more that, from a theoretical standpoint, the album shouldn’t have worked out as well as it did. If history has told us anything about compilation records it’s that best case scenario, they tend to be a mixed bag because of the patchwork narrative that underpins them – and Disco4 :: Part I had a fervent proclivity for that perfidious design. With that in mind, any rational human being can understand my scepticism for the record; after all, it was chock-full of heterogenous artists and bands all being thrown into the same melting pot, and was primed to be a logistical nightmare in bringing it all together. Yet, the reality of the situation proved me to be very wrong. Disco4 :: Part I managed to beat the odds and shatter that preconceived notion, preserving its cohesion for the near duration of its runtime and becoming the gold standard for all compilation albums to follow. In short, the LP is a testament to HEALTH’s capabilities – their nous enabled them to structure a very challenging array of sounds into one satisfyingly consistent record.

As Disco4 :: Part I implies, a second instalment was always intended. Now that the gamut is in full view, there’s a palpable connotation centring around finality and duality – a concerted effort being made to resolve the entire project with both aspects in mind. Part II starts off extremely despondent and chaotic, and then gradually ends on an intentionally reposed note; while duality evidentially seeps into the body of work when you play both records side by side. The album art for both LPs says more than enough, mind: Part II’s inverted colour scheme displays a much more foreboding appearance when compared to Part I’s lauded all-red background and black skull. Part II’s red skull resides in a void of darkness and emits a much stronger feeling towards the evils of the human condition. This visual foreshadowing is swiftly supported and executed without a hitch sonically, kicking right in with the fantastic lethargic dirge “Dead Flowers” (Poppy), a track that lays the groundwork for the most overtly dour foundation possible. Sure, Part I had its heavy/sinister moments, but where its predecessor takes aspects from heavy metal, Part II bathes in the brutal world of heavy metal. In short, Part II feels like it’s wrapping up Disco4 with the intention of being bigger and badder than its predecessor.

Part I was on an even keel in terms of accessibility and how it was all composed, while Part II has a much more metal-dominated framework, with various metal subgenre hues being experimented with over crushing hip-hop beats, trap, EBM, and moody synthesisers. Yes, it’s in Part II where you’ll hear tracks embodying [atmospheric] black, death, thrash, and industrial metal in a way that should sound gimmicky and contrived on paper, but like its preceding effort, HEALTH respects the source material and thus bolsters their own modus operandi from the experiments. Once again, Jake’s diaphanous vocals seem to fit in the pocket of every single style he's put up against. Part II also reaps the rewards for sounding even more tonally cohesive than its predecessor. This is probably down to the fact it isn’t trying to paint a picture with broad strokes, rather, the record sits contently in its gloomy, dilapidated zone. That’s not to say the album is a one-trick pony – it still has an assorted array of styles to sink your teeth into, but ultimately the core focus here is on metal, and more specifically industrial metal; with the omnipresent electronic clanks residing in the background of most tracks. The aesthetic feels like a seedy, damp and filthy sex club straight out of the movie Se7en, and while the latter half of the record loosens its heavy sensibilities to allow access for goth, post-punk and post-rock (with serene results I might add), it still maintains that sordid undertone it came in with.

Unfortunately, however, there are draws to the album. Like Part I this record features its own original standalone track, given the task of drawing the album to a close – and, as it happens, the entire project. This, of course, is a counterpoint to “Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0” which opened up Part I, and is a nice bookend to a project that has taken nearly two years to complete. Regrettably though, where “Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0” offered fans an incredible piece of music filled with epic swells, big melodies, and a unique dystopian hellscape with slender beams of light shining through the smog, “These Days 2.0.2.1” is a tenuous number that falls short of the high-quality standards we’re used to getting from the band. Not only is the song a massively anticlimactic way to close this high-octane party, based on its own merits it’s just not that fun to listen to. Sure, the careering rhythm and post-punk electronics bring a nice New Order dynamic to the table, but the repetitive lyrics and myopic vocal melodies hinder the piece quite a lot and make it sound homogenous after a while – never quite getting off the ground. On top of that, as I touched on earlier, the throttling metal energy dissipates by the time we get over “AD 1000”. This is absolutely fine, because the record begins to open up to different ideas before drawing to a close. However, from “Still Breathing” (w/ EKKSTACY) onwards it gets a little samey to say the least. “Still Breathing” feels reminiscent of early-day Throbbing Gristle misanthropy, but its intensely lowkey disposition becomes a shade boring before the end. The same issue befalls “No Escape” (The Neighbourhood) – it’s a solid enough track but you don’t get a lot from it with repeated listens, and because these tracks are all lumped together at the end, it exacerbates the problem to the point of dragging the album down a little bit.

Don’t let that deter you though; Part II is a fantastic album, filled with amazing moments. “AD 1000” (The Body) has this great dungeon synth vibe to it, with a classic icy black metal shrill complimenting the piece, and “Gnostic” (Flesh/Mortal Hell) is one of my favourite tracks here, with its fist-pumping groove and stoic vocal flow at the verse, which then segues into this haunting chorus of incantations. Other highlights come from “Excess”, which has Perturbator wrecking the room with his signature sashaying sound and these penetrating melancholic swells, made to add drama to the scene, and “The Joy of Sect” (Street Sect) has this brilliant guitar effect that hearkens back to HEALTH’s noise-rock days. All in all, Part II is a very worthy conclusion to the Disco4 project, it’s just a shame the band opted for a furtive exit out of the door rather than blowing the thing off its hinges. It’s hard to really say if I prefer the first instalment to this one, because this does so many things better than its predecessor. Sure, Part I has a tighter runtime and maintains its flow with punctilious bravado, but the aesthetic on this album is probably my favourite of any HEALTH record hitherto, and the writing and darker tone is for the most part stellar. Disco4 :: Part II might not get everything spot on, but it still stands up to Part I in a way that proves their last record wasn’t a fluke. As a complete package, Disco4 :: Part I & II is amazing to listen to in full, which at ninety minutes is testament to the quality on display here. If nothing else, it’s a small miracle both of these albums sound as cohesive as they do, because most who attempt a project on this scale yield from the difficulty, and even fewer succeed in making it sound this good.




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user ratings (59)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
anarchistfish
April 7th 2022


29917 Comments


oh nice. Cyberpunk 2020 is one of my fave songs of the last few years. Was kinda meh on the rest of 1 though. Shame if the equivalent doesn't live up to it

Digging: A Lot Like Birds - Conversation Piece

Taxt
April 7th 2022


1537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pumped for this, nice review

JAV
April 8th 2022


3516 Comments


Oh sweet, out tomorrow. Hopefully I like it as much as you do.

Storm In A Teacup
April 8th 2022


40159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have been so hyped for this

combustion07
April 8th 2022


10242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Unfamiliar with this project but your review has Definitely grabbed my attention onto it! Good stuff. When you mention playing part 1 and 2 side by side do you mean simultaneously? I've always had the idea of doing some sludge inspired double album where they could be played separately but also be put together and played simultaneously and have actually written a decent amount of stuff for said idea but making it something that could be cohesive in both ways is quite the task. Always loved the idea of trying it though and if anyone knows of any artists (regardless of genre) who've tackled something like that I would love to hear it.

Digging: Rebel Wizard - Triumph of Gloom

BallsToTheWall
April 8th 2022


50826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love it!

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2022


17537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

@combust



Not simultaneously, but you do benefit from hearing 1&2 in full in one sitting; it’s a great journey.



Loved disco4, but I’m definitely ready for a solo album by these guys

BallsToTheWall
April 8th 2022


50826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Def needs to collab with Greg Puciato, Chelsea wife, Chino and Lingua Ignota.

Demon of the Fall
April 8th 2022


24985 Comments


I've not enjoyed these guys since Get Color... any hope for me here? I haven't checked the other part of this, or indeed some of the collab stuff they've been doing

Digging: Nujabes - Luv(sic) Hexalogy

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2022


17537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

it's quite diverse, so you might find something from the two records.

combustion07
April 8th 2022


10242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Started with Slaves of Fear to get an idea before passing out and I love it. Looking forward to checking both parts of this when I wake up and go to work

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2022


17537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Yeah slaves is their best album imo. They changed sound a LOT since they first started out though, but all their discog is amazing. Max Payne soundtrack is goat

combustion07
April 9th 2022


10242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good to know. Think I'm gonna check their debut next. Ended up digging this quite a bit although I definitely prefer Slaves to it

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2022


17537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I’d suggest working backwards if you enjoyed slaves. If you listened to the s/t and vol 4 and didn’t know who the band were, you wouldn’t even realise it was the same band.



They’ve changed that much lol

Storm In A Teacup
April 11th 2022


40159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fucking solid record.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2022


28269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Yeah this is like a really cool comp.

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Demon of the Fall
April 12th 2022


24985 Comments


what Gonzo said

anyone who enjoys Slaves might get a shock if they went from that to the debut (s/t is waaaaaay better tho ;-))

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2022


48931 Comments


why is the debut vaguely good

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 12th 2022


17537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

@demon



s/t is amazing, yeah. but in honesty, they haven't made a bad album

Taxt
April 12th 2022


1537 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is sick



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