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Portrayal Of Guilt – We Are Always Alone

Portrayal Of Guilt
We Are Always Alone
by Ian Yeara at 13 March 2021, 7:02 PM

When I started this album I was concerned. My reaction was “who thought it was a good idea to give me a Hardcore album?” However, the deeper I got into the album I came to realize that these guys have a little something up their sleeves. For example the production is more reminiscent of a Black Metal album than what I think of in Hardcore; in all fairness looking around, these guys are classified as Post-Hardcore which is a genre that I have very much enjoyed in the past. These guys are channeling some of the nastiest Sludge, Doom and Black Metal I’ve ever heard, the music isn’t exactly catchy, but that’s also not what the band was going after. Almost reminiscent of THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, but even darker and more distorted, this album is at its core a descent into chaos and madness and honestly, I’m here for it.

The whole thing starts with a 1:50 intro track and of course you assume it’s going to be instrumental, but it’s not, it’s actually just a sub two minute song with some of the most insane screams from the vocalist on the entire album, ending with what sounds like whale noises made by a guitar. It transitions directly into "Anesthetized".

I’m not doing a track by track review, I just wanted to talk about how this album defied several expectations and in true Post-Hardcore fashion, goes out of its way to think outside the box –just a little I mean, there’s nothing quite revolutionary going on here. Still, these guys definitely have a grasp on how to make weird and dissonant interesting.

Just as an aside, this is the kind of music I would love to get to talk about in music theory IV; that’s the class where you start talking about 20th century compositions and serialized music and for you math heads, it’s actually a little easier to analyze than 19th century tonal music. This is what guys like John Cage were after though, using their instruments in unique ways to create new sounds and oftentimes create the most atonal sequences they can create. To some this might seem like pretentious musicians being pretentious because they can, but speaking as a musician, I love it. There’s nothing new under the sun, and even though this isn’t what I would call new, it’s still very different from most releases I’ve heard in the last year, and though it resembles a few bands I’ve heard recently, this is far more competent and interesting.

That competency shines through in every department, the musicianship is top notch, and so is the songwriting, but really the flow and structure of the album is what sells me. From track 1-8 it really feels like each song is a descent, with each new song being darker and more twisted than the previous one. The bass just sounds so dank, and I mean that literally; I don’t listen to Sludge very often, but when I do the bass is usually the star of the show because it gets downtuned the crap out of it until it sounds less like a bass guitar and more like a primordial sound from the underworld.

The atmosphere is great and the instruments all sound great (and by great I mean disturbing and disgusting), but what really impresses me is that they still leave room for some honest to goodness Prog. Not much, but here and there the drummer will get into these spacey and intricate sections that almost remind me of OPETH.

The best duo of songs on the album for me are "Garden Of Despair" and "My Immolation"; two fairly different songs, but they contrast perfectly. "Garden Of Despair" is about as sludgy as this album gets, the bass is extra crunchy and disgusting and the strings are extra spooky, but this is also one of the songs that leans the most into Prog with rapid changes in time signatures, polyrhythms and intricate drum work that just all melds together really well. "My Immolation" has some OPETH reverence which meshes really well with their style, it’s one of the more accessible songs on the album with an absolutely massive riff to open with the song takes some twists and turns with a clean vocal section about halfway through, followed by a well executed fade to black.

I talked about competency before, I can be very picky about genres sometimes, but when you get collections of random promos every month you learn about your own tastes and what makes the difference between a good album in a style I don’t like, and a bad album in a style I do like. Post-Hardcore and really anything in the -core genres is going to be hit and miss with me, but the thing that makes the difference, is often musical competency. These guys know how to write an interesting album with variety and most importantly they know how to pace their music.

There isn’t much in the way of hooks on this album, but that’s okay because the riffs are excellent and I even find myself fascinated with the sections of silence punctuated by screeching strings and distorted bass plucks. This probably isn’t ending up on my year end list or anything, but it’s a solid album and more importantly it’s really interesting to break down and analyze.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Second Coming
2. Anesthetized
3. A Tempting Pain
4. It’s Already Over
5. Masochistic Oath
6. They Want Us All To Suffer
7. Garden Of Despair
8. My Immolation
9. We Are Always Alone
Lineup:
Matt King – Vocals/Guitar
Blake Given – Bass
James Beveridge – Drums
Chris Taylor – Guest vocals on "The Second Coming"
Matt Michel – Guest vocals on "Garden Of Despair"
Record Label: Closed Casket Activities
     


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