Undigested #2: Loss – Despond

LossDespond (Profound Lore, 2011)

1. Weathering the Blight

Spoken intro with a simple bass (or baritone guitar?), that’s a little different. Not sure it’s necessary but whatever. As Butthead said about Hum’s video for “Stars”, “It sucked, but at least it was short.”

2. Open Veins to a Curtain Closed

Ah, here’s the heavy. Those are some drawn out guttural bellows, “cookie-monster vocals” on a ton of downers. The oppressive heat we’ve had the past few days in NYC have been opioid in their downerism. I try to get out, run errands, bike ride, whatnot and then end up naptime. I don’t do air conditioning. Too cheap to pay for it and it makes for a sickly environment, chills and hot flashes, an allergenic flu. Clean Spanish/Flamenco-influenced guitar lines cut through the sludge, that’s a novel turn. That break at about 5min fooled me into thinking it was the next track. Nope. Very clever, gentlemen. This album made Brandon Stosuy’s Haunting the Chapel best-of-’11-so-far list. So far it’s reminiscent of Deadbird’s Arkansas-style gloom, very deliberately paced.

3. Cut Up, Depressed and Alone

Quick cuts between tracks, this time for real. Sounds very similar to the latter half of the previous track, which was a decent shift from its own first half. I’m sensing a theme here with the depression and self-mutilation. That’s not to knock it, but they’re not being subtle about it at all. There is a Dylan Carlson’s-”Americana” vibe to all this, just more bass-biased distortion and grime. Early Earth was still a little more “buzz-y” than sludgy to my mind. But now here we are again in a drawn-out, clean, slow guitar accompaniment to guttural vocals. The punctuating smash is a piercing. (Is that an obvious, redundant phrase? I can’t tell.) Well, turns out these guys are from Nashville, which could account for the Deep South feel to the presentation. Also could be a coincidence. A few friends and I are currently enmeshed in Gravity’s Rainbow, so I feel susceptible to suggestions of conspiracy, paranoia and a distinct lack-of-coincidence. . .

4. Deprived Of The Void

. . . even though I should know better. Static, probably a whole bunch of pedals run through each other. I’m starting to understand why people are tiring of the sludge, doom, downer, “meditative” metal coming out. This fits right into that schema. After hearing the new Dark Castle record (and really digging it), the anti-hype backlash makes sense. There’s a lot of this going around. . .

5. An Ill Body Seats My Sinking Sight

. . . and I’m left wondering if it’s a reflection of real socio-economic pressures or a trend based in exposure. We’re reading the same blogs and the feedback gets a new wall—reverberation. What’s hypersaturated? “Lo-fi” reverb-drenched pop music (almost none of which I’ve ever heard is interesting, but I use it as an example b/c there’s a ton of it out there); sludgy doom metal of several variations; black metal-influenced progressive metal. Is it too much to read anything into these phenomena? And I’m so antsy in anticipation of the forthcoming YOB record, Atma, that I refuse to read any reviews until I hear it (I have heard the opener streaming online, though, and it got me excited). This weekend may be a convenient time to move away from bleakness.

6. Despond

Piano with lots of echo and submerged voices, whispering. Who is talking, and to whom? That is the internet right now. I exist more there than incarnate and mostly I don’t mind. I go outside and get vitamin D. Writing projects hang. . .

7. Shallow Pulse

. . . over my head. These guitars are pretty soaked, but I don’t think they’re tuned any lower than D Standard. I might be more into this if the vocal style was more intriguing. There aren’t many hyperguttural/cookie-monster vocalists that I can appreciate. One of the few is Cephalic Carnage and I’m not sure why they get a pass while others don’t, perhaps it’s merely a contrast from its context. There’s so much low end here that it all feels too similar. It’s not bad, I’m just a little disinterested. I want these guys to do more with those dry-West, Spanish-infused clean guitar that was happening earlier in the album. Seems to have all but disappeared. Shit, they just got me again with another mid-track pause-&-shift. Maybe these guys need to work on their editorial skills?

8. Conceptual Funeralism Unto the Final Act (of Being)

Here’s a little bit of a welcome change, this has started off pitched higher than anything that’s come before. Is this a sign of hope out of the bleakest nadir of the album? Subsequent listens may suss out the reasons for severing the tracks they way they have here. I used “sever” deliberately there, thinking it may be an enactment within a song of a flesh “discontinuity”. These vocals just aren’t doing it for me, though at the moment I kinda dig the “heavenly” choir right in the backdrop— recalls Messaien’s “L’Ascension”. This one might end up being a grower, it’s not really sticking on this opening listen. Drum production feels pretty good. . .

9. Silent and Completely Overcome

. . . and as I say that a drum intro! Thundery. Oh! regular singing, little heavy on the reverb, but that feels more “natural” to what else is happening musically. They should have done this more, it recalls the voice from the intro track. This guy’s got a decent voice and it’s closer to Mike Scheidt than the too-proggy singing that’s plagued a bunch of late. I should commend these guys for crafting a plot arch across the album, there’s a story in here that the music tells without even knowing the lyrics. Now they’ve gone into a faster part, but it doesn’t suit them very well and the double-kick (if that’s what it is and not super-rumble bass line). . . shit, now it’s morphed into a black metal part. Well what am I supposed to say now given what I said a couple songs above? This song is all over the place. I’d be better disposed to the elements here if there was an inkling of any of it earlier, elsewhere on the album. The black metal passage gave way to a return to plodding, only via buzzcrunch mid-pitch guitar instead of sludge. Singing is back. I’d have put money down that singing like this would have driven me batty, but I dig it. Keeps going through a fade out and fades itself. Odd way to end a track, but whatever.

10. The Irreparable Act

Ringing, bell-like guitar, finger-picked. Second guitar enters 1:30ish. I’m happy the end is nearing. Well, I’m very curious as to how this stands up on subsequent listens. The content itself is harrowing as is the way it unfolds through the music. Two-thirds the way through I wanted to kill myself, yet what followed rewarded patience. Still think some fat could be trimmed and subtle intrigue added (especially in the beginning). Distorted spoken passage, not really necessary and neither is this organ. Until these textures entered this was similar to Botch’s “Afghamistam”, how sparse and simple. I think I’ll stick with my assessment that it could use a little work, but is pretty solid for a debut full-length. “Will it hold up?” is the foremost question I have right now, so at the very least they have me wanting to listen again. These are fairly long songs, too, discounting the segue tracks. Okay, it’s all over.

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