Closure in Moscow
Soft Hell


3.7
great

Review

by YoYoMancuso STAFF
October 27th, 2023 | 99 replies


Release Date: 10/25/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Every enemy that I kill, it's my own free will

“Jaeger Bomb” catfished me. As everyone is well aware, Soft Hell is the first full-length album by Australian quintet Closure in Moscow since 2014’s polarizing Pink Lemonade, an expansive and satirical record that was unashamed to wear its Zappa influences on its sleeve and portrayed blatant disregard for fan expectations, preferring to dive deep into the most experimental influences of its creators. Soft Hell’s blistering opener appears to throw all of these forays out a ten-story window, opting instead to explode at the listener with the frenetic force of earlier tracks in the band’s discography like “Sweet#hart” or “Kissing Cousins”. This is not to say that “Jaeger Bomb” is fully reminiscent of this earlier material, as its subdued intro, jagged tempo changes, and bubbling electronics all suggest the arrival of a new chapter for the group and indicate that each offering we get from Closure In Moscow will be unlike anything we’ve heard from them before. Soft Hell makes good on these initial expectations set by “Jaeger Bomb”, retaining its Closure In Moscow identity while sinking its claws into new musical territory, for better or worse.

The first thing listeners will likely notice about previously released single “Primal Sinister” is how strongly it leans into a newfound appreciation for stadium rock tropes; the band’s trademark funk-rock triads and belted harmonies still carry the bulk of the song, but the instrumental break about two minutes in finds itself dominated by Mansur Zenelli and Michael Barrett’s pentatonic licks, propulsive percussion courtesy Salvatore Aidone, and culminates in a distinctly late-’70s sounding solo. It’s a triumphant moment for the band, and one that gets the listener conjuring up all kinds of possibilities in their head about where Soft Hell could possibly go next, especially when the band chooses to end the track with one of the most head-scratching yet satisfying chord changes I’ve heard all year.

It’s not the case with every song on the record, but “Absolute Terror Field” rearing its ugly head reveals a dominant influence that threatens to derail the album’s momentum on numerous occasions; boring, static instrumental arrangements that are more about style than substance. The synths on this track sound good, don’t get me wrong; Soft Hell’s production value is mind-boggling, with featured artist Aphir stating on Twitter that the band would often persuade 300-track DAW sessions into becoming the pristine-sounding finished products on the album. That being said, the songwriting process for “Absolute Terror Field” sounds as though the band said “whoa, that’s a sick pad”, asked Aphir to do a vocal feature that unironically has the phrase “Discord kitten” in it, and just moved on to working on other tracks, but not before adding one of the most annoying call-and-response choruses I’ve heard in a long time. “Lock & Key” and the title track suffer for similar reasons, despite having some amazing guitar leads in them, while mid-album trio of highlights “Better Way, “Holy Rush”, and “Keeper of the Lake” prioritize the band’s trademark syncopation to the extent that they not only avoid sounding stagnant, but make almost as strong of an impression as the first two tracks. “Better Way” highlights Christopher De Cinque’s considerable vocal talent better than any other song on the tracklist, which I feel counterintuitively has something to do with how amazing the instrumentals are; De Cinque gets some time to shine a cappella on the less engaging “Don Juan Triumphant”, and the effect isn’t nearly as powerful.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if Soft Hell’s tendency to go a bit more barebones at times isn’t a direct response to complaints about Pink Lemonade’s excess. While some of those complaints were valid, I can’t help but wish that the band went a bit deeper on certain moments here, particularly during slower and breezier songs where I found myself begging for just one more melodic wrinkle or percussive layer. The album proves that Closure In Moscow can still do bangers better than anyone else, with the majority of the highlights positively correlating with BPM. I respect and admire the fact that the band so consistently pushes the envelope and moves in new directions, even within the same album; I’d just like to see them embody those directions more fully before discarding them and moving on whatever catches their curiosity next.



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user ratings (104)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2023


19037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Not sure why, but I found this one kinda difficult to write about. Either way, glad to have these dudes back

JoyfulPlatypus
October 27th 2023


838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great write up! A lot to digest with this album, definitely gonna take multiple listens but I absolutely love it so far.

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2023


19037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

definitely a lot to digest, thankful I got the promo a few days beforehand otherwise this review wouldn't have been up until Sunday lol

Project
October 27th 2023


5852 Comments


lovely review

did not realize how much people did not like Pink Lemonade, an album I very thoroughly enjoyed precisely for its manic excesses

bowlermicah
October 27th 2023


209 Comments


Feel like we like this album for different reasons. The groove and funk in songs like Soft Hell and Lock and Key are what makes the album for me.

Pikazilla
October 27th 2023


30488 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pink lemonade fucking sucked

JoyfulPlatypus
October 27th 2023


838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Bowler - I hella agree, the slower paced, groovier jams are some of my favorites.



@Pika - Pink Lemonade was definitely an aquired taste, but I fricken love it lol

vult
October 27th 2023


2403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Still digesting this but I’m liking what I hear, like that they are just having fun with it

vult
October 27th 2023


2403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Literally a band that doesn’t let genre or expectations define them, which I can respect in the year of our lord 2023

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2023


19037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

"Feel like we like this album for different reasons. The groove and funk in songs like Soft Hell and Lock and Key are what makes the album for me."



That's pretty dope, there's something on this album for everybody

ShapeOfJizzToCum
October 27th 2023


899 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

First two tracks are dogshit, the rest is okay. Fuckin sucks compared to First Temple and Pink Lemonade *spit*

ShapeOfJizzToCum
October 27th 2023


899 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"two shots in the dark BLAPBLAP" holy shit shut the fuck up.

Voltimand
October 27th 2023


1670 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Feel like this one's gonna be a grower for a lot of people

ShapeOfJizzToCum
October 28th 2023


899 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's really not that terrible but those first two songs are really bad and I have pretty much nothing good to say about them and they definitely kind of soured me going into the rest of it, I'm sure a few songs here and there that I actually enjoy going back to will grow on me but eh. The closer is also boring as shit complete throwaway track, the 1-2 punch of Happy Days and Japanese chiptune song blow that shit out of the water, as does the rest of Pink Lemonade.



If the band decided to dumb their shit down to a straightforward bluesy rock album (not seeing how this is free of genre restraints at all really) with a couple spicy moments because they were afraid people thought Pink Lemonade was too all over the place or some shit all the more the shame. Not even to drag anyone who isn't into that album because it's not for everyone, but damn if it isn't far more musically interesting and exploratory while also being more emotionally impactful and still pretty catchy and straightforward for the most part despite being pretty wild and obviously pulling a lot of TMV influence if a bit derivative of them at times.



Anyway some decent songs/moments here but I don't see it as being a step forward for them at all, bands always shoot themselves in the foot waiting a decade to release material, especially after something as massive as Pink Lemonade.

Primal Sinister is probably the ~weirdest!~ track and p much nothing about it works for me, absolute ass.

Standouts on one listen I'd say were Holy Rush/Don Juan/Fine, Better Way and Keeper of the Lake also ite.

Scoot
October 28th 2023


22259 Comments


first temple is so fucking good

way ahead of its time

ShapeOfJizzToCum
October 28th 2023


899 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah even if you're not into the wonky splonky smoke drugs hippie bullshit long form stuff on Pink Lemonade, First Temple is a dope as hell album that also blows this one out of the water pretty hard top to bottom.

I haven't listened to their second album enough to know how it holds up to this, I remember not liking it very much and I know it's pretty much universally panned so I haven't bothered with it in recent years.

JayEnder
October 28th 2023


20466 Comments


Thoroughly enjoyed this, started out a bit rocky but I was fully invested 4 songs in.

Definitely the better version of Pink Lemonade

Calc
October 28th 2023


17384 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah I keep seeing people say this is like a mix of their early stuff and pink lemonade but nawww it really just sounds like a follow-up to pink lemonade

Emim
October 28th 2023


35639 Comments


Did not enjoy this at all

rc239
October 28th 2023


404 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

first temple is probably in my top 3 most listened to albums of all time. thought pink lemonade was pretty cool, initially feeling pretty mid about this one. gotta give it a few more spins



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