I started this blog with a view to only talking about music releases that I could hold in my hand, but when it came to the debut full-length recording from Ireland's On Pain Of Death, which as of this writing hasn't been committed to wax, tape or polycarbonate, I had to make an exception.
This album kills. I mean it literally sounds like it has the potential to warp listener's minds and inspire them to end lives. I'd like to play my part in furthering it's corruptive intent.
The title track begins with what is either the whistling of the wind, or a portent of something far more ominous. The sparse strum of a guitar enters the soundscape, an eerie, arrhythmic assault on the strings more than any sort of actual chord. It's not melody, it's an audio threat.
Nimble cymbal taps give the first hint that this may become anything even approaching a song before it all collides into a rusted, groaning riff. This is sludge distilled down to the bare essentials; guitars that don't so much swagger as stagger, vocals that are more like puking up booze than singing the blues.
Four minutes in it becomes even more tortuous, the tempo slowing to a crawl, dual vocalists howling and retching words I don't dare try to look up. It's a draining listen. And I mean that as the highest of praise.
Feedback segues the first track into 'Tell Your God To Ready For Blood', which is a phrase taken from the much-lauded TV show Deadwood. This track has all the sparseness and menace of a brutal frontier town itself. The opening minutes of this thirteen minute exercise in audio terror are all discordance and the beating of drums. Not drumbeats, but beating. It's all downbeat and oppressive 'til about halfway through, when something approaching a groove kicks in. Well, it's a groove like the serrated rasp of a blade against vertebrae, but it's like fucking Grand Funk Railroad compared to the first half of the song. There's even a guitar solo at one point.
The track creeps, crawls, slithers to a close, and oh fuck I wish it was accompanied by the hiss and crackle of the needle of my record player protesting against what I'm forcing it to play. This would be the point where I'd need to give it five minutes and steel myself before flipping the record and bracing myself for the B-side
'It Came From The Bog' sounds like the suffocating dread you'd feel as the eponymous 'it' drags itself towards you, all water-bloated rot and crazed cataract stare.
Sporadic drums fill your skull, like the echoing of a tomb before they coalesce into something like a rhythm. Not like you'll be tapping your feet to it or anything, but it's slightly less of an agonising cacophony.
These are all complimentary phrases you understand, to me there is nothing better than being scared by music, and these four depraved motherfuckers have recorded something that definitely succeeds at that.
Between eight and nine minutes in the thing from the bog has devoured it's quarry, and the track shifts gear, almost becoming a melancholy funeral march, if the pallbearers were more interested in hacking through the casket and feasting on the remains.
With just a few minutes left before I can come up for air things morph once more into what sounds like the filthiest grindcore being played at about 6.66 revolutions per minute. The slow ache of a violin joins the fray to add an extra layer of for-fucks-sake-quit-creeping-me-out before what sounds like actual torture and anguish closes the track.
My mind is sufficiently warped. Hopefully I won't kill anyone as a result.
The depraved souls responsible for this fucking thing should seriously get a physical release sorted. This thing needs to be scraped into wax, with that horrifying Harry Clarke illustration blown up to 12" x 12" on matt black heavyweight card. Go tell them that:
But until that happens, you can download this album for free, or donate some pennies towards it, from Handshake Inc, which ought to tide you over until they sort out a vinyl release:
Hopefully at some point someone will realise that there should be some sort of package tour with these guys, Dragged Into Sunlight, and Coffinworm. The Depression Procession Tour, corrupting minds in a city near you!
Free razorblades and absinthe with every admission.