If the word dissonance had a picture next to it in the disctionary it would probably be the album cover to this release. The band are not messing around on this album, the bring the chaos and they bring it hard. Yet at the same time they manage to still find plenty of room for atmosphere so thick you could drown in it. The band have never been fond of making the same album twice and consitently swith sounds and styles with each release. This album sees them combine their more widely used and recognised noise and grind/mathcore elements with the more atmospheric doom and post metal elements of their 2018 release Thrum.
The dream team of Eeli Helin (vocals, guitars and noise), Lee Fisher (drums and narration) and Samuel Smith (bass) return. This time they bring with them a full host of talented guests oncluding Stéphane Babey (Electric cello), David Burke (trombone), Michael Frei (piano/Wurlitzer/MikroKorg/Mellotron/voice), Hanna Ott (oboe), Philippe Simon (trumpet), Richard Spencer (viola) and Iván Zapata (saxophone). I mentioned all of this because it’s worth taking into appreciation the number of instrumental elements that go into making what can be at times described as “a chaotic wall of sound.” If you listen more closely, you’ll hear highly complex arrangements in this mix and layer upon layer of textures that are somehow woven together seamlessly. The use of both classical and jazz elements throughout the album help to further develop what is already a highly complex piece of music that seems to almost effortly defy all genre boundaries.
Carl Jung once said “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. Every civilized human being, whatever his conscious development, is still an archaic man at the deeper levels of his psyche.” Now I know that this album did not exists during his lifetime, however this statement describes this album almost word for word. If you have one takeaway from this album let it be that the band have created order through chaos, and they’ve reached both the civilised and archaic parts of each listener. Duality is a key strength of this release; it exists on two plains that overlap consistently and yet exist in their own right simultaneously. This duality is most clearly presented in the band’s choice to include classical and jazz musicians from all over the world on what is essentially a math/grindcore album. Vastly different musical spectrums being forced to co-exist and somehow making that partnership feel natural. The same duality is felt in the balance struck between raw aggression and technicality on one side and atmosphere on and dark ambience on the other.
The continued use of narration on the album indicates that this is indeed a story being told and one that stretches across more than one release. Unfortunately for the listener without the full album available to listen to they cannot yet understand the full scope of this story and will have to wait for the album to drop to fully appreciate it. Personally, I love the style of narration used on the album, it almost has a gritty sort of Film Noir feel to it. I could imagine it being spoken in a dingey office in rainy Chicago all set in black and white film with Lee Fisher in a tan duster coat smoking a cigarette with a whisky in his hand.
As far as the performance of the band’s three primary members goes, they are as confident and proficient as they ever have been. Eeli assaults the listener with his raw and powerful vocal performance. There’s always a certain level of raw emotion present in his vocals and this album is no exception. Guitars wise we have some incredibly technical parts on this album that at times are honestly somewhat overwhelming. That’s to be expected with a genre like mathcore though, highly unusual time signatures are all part of the style. Drum wise we get both an unrelenting force of pure aggression and more atmosphere focused (yet still quite technical) arrangements that present themselves as needed. Lastly, we have the bass work, which like the guitar and drums operates on a highly technical level yet creates plenty of atmosphere when it is called upon to do so.
Overall, this is one hell of an album and a solid addition to the band’s already highly acclaimed discography. Personally, this may be my favourite release by the project to date. I loved the balance struck between styles and the inclusion of so many classical and jazz musicians into the mix. Regardless of my opinion this is a release that really requires you to form your own understanding of the music, so dig in and see what you take away.
Listen to and order the album: