Saturday, August 20, 2011

Northless - "Clandestine Abuse" (2011) [Halo Of Flies Records/Gilead Media]

Alright, so by now you have all heard my rants about "post-metal," what with everyone concentrating more on how to sound the most like ISIS as opposed to making their own music. It really is a bummer, because you know that most of these bands have talent, especially at creating attention-grabbing textures, but in the end they are just another clone. The polarization of this subgenre was so one-sided that it was making me a bummer of a person to be around. A whisper of "Oh man, did you hear *such and such*'s new album" would grace my ears and I would groan. "Dear God," I thought, "I am becoming more of a music opinion asshole." ...And I was. Who would stunt my horrific metamorphosis? Well, it turns out the cure to my ailment resided a mere 2 hours' drive north.

Milwaukee 3-piece DOOM band Northless really take the cake with their second full-length, the massive Clandestine Abuse. I mean, while this is "atmospheric" at times, the pretty, shiny stuff mostly takes a back seat to extraordinarily heavy sludge/doom riffing, which is an approach that hasn't really been taken since the advent of this style. This "throwback," so to speak, is a refreshing break from a style that is otherwise moving more towards a "heavy Explosions in the Sky" sort of direction as opposed to its original, much more aggressive and somewhat "artsy" existence. The sheer knuckle-dragging heaviness of Clandestine Abuse comes down like a sledgehammer, yet through the horrendous pain of being beaten into the ground, there is a sort of euphoria brought on by the light atmospheric backing. Beauty through horror...or is it horror through beauty? Either way, it is nice to see people doing something different (read as: "old school"...ha) with this combination.

I know I'm going to hear quite a few complaints about the vocals and, yes, they are strange for this sort of music. Instead of mimicking a lumbering giant, here we have something that hardcore punk fans lovingly call "lunch lady vocals." Yes, they're weird, but, as a BIG fan of classic powerviolence band Infest, it is nice to hear even the artsiest bands making nods towards their masterful No Man's Slave album, whose strongpoint happens to be these bellowing, low, primal shouts. This vocal style adds loads to the overall intensity to the already crushing Clandestine Abuse, and, while others might leave confused or even annoyed, this album left a lasting mark on me. Other bands, take note: you don't have to sacrifice the "heavy" once you pull out your reverb and delay pedals. Just saying.

Get this from Halo Of Flies or Gilead Media. Seriously.


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