Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hellvetron- Death Scroll of Seven Hells and it's Infernal Majesties(2012)

Hellvetron- Death Scroll of Seven Hells and it's Infernal Majesties

If there is one big positive we can take from the revival of Old School Death Metal over the last seven years(give or take), it would have to be the birth of "Occult Death Metal."  Influenced heavily by New York legends Incantation and Immolation, as well as a diverse group of Death and Black Metal bands from the early and mid 90's,  "Occult Death Metal" remains somewhat of an enigma: it's not really a genre, and the bands who often fall under the label are very diverse stylistically.  The ties that bind these modern acts together are esoteric and misty, but one word always appears in every bio, blurb and review for these acts: atmosphere.  Specifically, a primary focus on atmosphere and emotional intensity over "riff-salads" and guitar solos.  The music these artists create is often lo-fi and organic, in an effort to invoke the old, rotten spirits of the Earth.  And that's exactly what Hellvetron are attempting to do on Death Scrolls of Seven Hells and it's Infernal Majesties: summon the unknown into the light, so that it may devour willing and unwilling souls alike.  Hailing from Texas, Hellvetron fit about as perfectly into the "Occult Death Metal" movement as any artist I have heard.  So much so in fact, that Death Scrolls might just be the birth of a genre: the first real Occult Death Metal album, sans quotation marks.

That's not to say that Death Scrolls is massively different then anything you might have heard before.  The specters of  Incantation, Imprecation and Beherit loom over the entire recording, and modern acts such as Grave Upheaval, Antediluvian, Sonne Adam and Muknal have also touched on many of the dark, twisted themes that Death Scrolls does.  Yet this album does have a claim on being the first true Occult Death Metal album, because the focus is 100% on atmosphere and texture: pulling individual riffs and sections from this light-devouring void of madness defeats the purpose of the compositions, which are built from the ground up to evoke specific emotions of dread and demonic possession.  After a dozen spins of Death Scrolls, I never once found myself even lightly bobbing my head or commenting under my breath about "nice riffs."  That's not to say that the album doesn't have them, or that it's rhythmically spastic, only that everything about the album is nefariously designed to be atmospheric and textured.  The riffs and drums are buried under a mile of reverb, while the tempos remain slow and hypnotically focused.  The compositions are also dense and busy, featuring loud, powerful vocals and extensive use of ambient keyboards and noises, while the bass is overwhelming with it's low-end intensity.  The ambient sounds in particular are my favorite aspect of the album, and with more and more bands making use of them, they still stand out here because they are used appropriately and only for maximum effect.  Death Scrolls is an album meant to be experienced more then merely listened to, which is partly why I don't find it quite as awe-inspiring as many of the albums released by Hellvetron's peers.

Hellvetron have taken the ratio of "pure insanity" and "listenable" and thrown it completely in the direction of screaming nightmares.  Which is not a bad thing, it merely makes Death Scrolls an album with a time and a place to be enjoyed.  If you plan on summoning some ancient atrocity against God in your dank, smelly bathroom, I could not think of a more appropriate album to have ominously proliferating shadows in the swell of incantations and smoke, but beyond these moments(we've all been there), Death Scrolls is just not every day listening.  It's an album that demands being started and finished all in one sitting to really make any impact, so just casually picking out a single track to play for a friend or to throw on a play list is utterly pointless.

Death Scrolls is a fine album regardless of it's limited use: it fits all my personal desires for Death Metal, as it is nihilistic, atmospheric, fresh and strongly rooted in it's thematic purpose.  And no doubt fans of the "Occult Death Metal" movement will greatly enjoy this album.  The atmosphere is effortless, the intensity is sky-high and the evil simply overwhelming.  Hellvetron achieves every single goal it set for itself on Death Scrolls, and my future forays into the unknown in the search for ancient secrets will have a new soundtrack.

Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

GGUW- Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit(2011)

GGUW- Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit

The opening Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit is little more then the distorted sounds of various animals of unknown origin, clamoring and shrieking in pain and rage, while a thundering drum smashes against the backdrop in pure frustration.  The monster of the sub-conscious perhaps, throwing itself against the weakened walls of one's sanity, breaking down the barriers of humanity in a desperate search for freedom and flesh.  Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit is a bestial experience, one of transformation and emancipation from a cold, unnatural world that we live in today.  It's a Black Metal album unlike any I have heard: it's rawness and repetition are instantly familiar, but it's atmosphere is completely alien and unique.  No album has ever made me feel like Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit has, and the album leaves not only a lasting emotional impression, but a physical one as well.  Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit is full contact art, unsympathetic yet oddly warm and inviting, drawing you in with it's comforting yet imposing guitar sound and emotional, devastatingly sad vocals.

Once the cage to the beast within is opened, Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit envelops you in it's controlled insanity.  Then opening untitled track(all the tracks are untitled) features no more then three actual riffs, repeated continuously with consistent speed and mounting intensity, while an inhuman shriek likely saying nothing at all calls out from the abyss of distortion and blast-beats.  It's a deceptively simple composition, more endurance then skill, but it's incredibly effective and powerful.  The vocals devolve into nothing more then mad wails, choking noises and bellows, and by now the transfixing and hypnotic riffs have put you under their spell.  You feel every ounce of the sadness and anger; you become the beast within.  

The following tracks are somewhat more traditional, yet remain sickening in their darkness and bewitching in their construction.  There is an obvious influence of Depressive Black Metal, yet GGUW do not sound like any Black Metal artist I can really think of, other then perhaps Luciation(though both projects evoke entirely different images and emotions).  All the elements are familiar, but presented in such a way as to be unparalleled in the genre.

If any complaint against Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit can be levied, it's that the album feels somewhat incomplete.  At only three tracks, it features an obvious intro but ends abruptly and without much fanfare.  So does life it seems; it's likely the album feels unfinished because of the recent passing of guitar player Wolfrano Ketzer, who committed suicide in May   Hearing the bleakness of Gegen Gravitation und Willensfreiheit makes it hard not to wonder if the personal demons facing Mr. Ketzer had some impact on the sound and emotions of the album.  This is all speculation of course: maybe this was how the album was intended to feel and I have no inside information on what exactly happened or why.  But Gegen Gravitation und Wilensfreiheit feels like an album written and performed by men who understand suffering, and those emotions come through clearly and powerfully.  In a small sliver of positive news, GGUW will try and forge on without him, a testament to both the internal strength of their members and of a love for making music about anything but love.

I can only hope for more.  Gegen Gravitation und Wilensfreiheit may be short, but it's an album which can be listened to over and over again despite the despondency of it's atmosphere and themes.  It's a small jewel, a tiny masterpiece whose impact far exceeds it's stature.  It calls to the inner monster within all of us, and it cannot help but answer it.

Rating: 9.5/10

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ectovoid- Fractured In The Timeless Abyss(2012)

Ectovoid- Fractured In The Timeless Abyss

Alabama Death Metal band Ectovoid are almost laughably lock-step with the rest of the current Death Metal scene and trends: old-school nostalgia worship, doing what's been done before without bring much of anything new to the table in terms of new ideas of unique concepts.  It's little more then the sum of it's influences: Immolation(especially), Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Grave, etc. are all present and accounted for, and most of Fractured In The Timeless Abyss's listening time is spent tying all the influences to the different sections, checking off the appearance of each legend.  It's even ripe with Lovecraftian-imagery for fuck's sake, which at this point almost feels like a requirement more then a choice of lyrical concepts.

And ya know what?  It's still pretty good.

For some readers of this blog, this is a pretty crazy statement coming from this reviewer, who probably hasn't made a ton of friends amongst the tried-and-true Old School 'Heads.  And I went into Fractured In The Timeless Abyss wanting to hate it.  It was an album which represents all of my current issues with the current Death Metal scene in spades.  When I say not one new idea, I mean it: Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is in fact locked in a space-time disturbance, in which it is perpetually 1992(a horrifying thought.)  After a dozen spins I could have developed a spreadsheet of "gently borrowed" riffs, ideas and compositions from a dozen different classic Death Metal acts, a good portion of those which I dislike greatly.  This was an album I seemed destined to hate, one to fill me with righteous fury and reaffirm my disillusionment with the current "old-school is the only school" mythology dominating the genre.

So what the fuck?  What's my angle?  It comes down to a single word: craftsmanship.  Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is like a finely made table: unspectacular and highly unoriginal, but solid and sturdy.  The guys in Ectovoid are just rock solid musicians, and the band is tighter then a scene-queen's pre-teen jeans.  Vocalist Chuck Bryant growls not only with unholy guttural intensity, but also with impressive clarity and pronunciation.  In fact, not since Sonne Adam's Transformation has there been a more distinguishable vocal performance.  Sure, he wastes it on time a dozen lyrics about "space horrors" and "coffins," but it's still a damn fine effort.  And while Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is miles from what most would consider "Tech-Death," there are some damn complex riffs and leads through-out the album.  Through sheer force of musicianship, production(clear but thick) and generally excellent performances, Fractured In The Timeless Abyss made a solid impression on me.  It also features one of the years best songs, "Chewing Through the Membrane of Time and Space," a tight and tidy slice of Immolation-meets-Bolt Thrower not to be missed.

Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is truly little more then highly digestible, low-brow Death Metal; a rather convincing imitation of true nihilism and inhumanity, wrapped in a gorgeous cover and served ready-made for easy consumption.  It's not a meal I normally partake of, but while the ingredients are little more then clever re-productions of reality, the men who made the meal are damn fine chefs.  It might be the same ol' same ol' I've had a thousand times, but this one time it wasn't too bad at all.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, July 16, 2012

Column of Heaven- Mission From God(2012)

Column of Heaven- Mission From God

Column of Heaven appear to be a new group on the surface, but a closer look reveals the project is really more of a reinvention then a completely new concept.  The band is really a continuation of the now defunct The Endless Blockade, it featuring former members of the project, in both sound and substance.  Both bands play noise-y, dischordant Powerviolence and Grindcore with a healthy dose of Power Electronics and pure vein-popping anger.  Listening to the bands new EP Mission From God certainly evokes the same feelings and intensity that The Endless Blockade did in their hey-day.  That's not a bad thing: The Endless Blockade were one of the best bands in the genre, and their break-up in 2010 was a painful body shot for their fans.  So it's a nice plus that Mission From God also feels like an evolution as much as a continuation: Column of Heaven is a more technical, Grindcore influenced project, something a bit darker and more monolithic then The Endless Blockade were.  This is a new experience worth checking out regardless of the project's history: the music speaks for itself.

Big fans of The Endless Blockade might even be a little turned off by Mission From God at first, considering some key differences between the two projects.  The vocals will be the first to stand out: gone are the more traditional Powerviolence vocals, replaced by a very competent J.R. Hayes impersonator.  This isn't necessarily an improvement, but the vocals mesh well with the Grindcore-focused approach and the labyrinth-dwelling Sludge sections.  The guitar sound is more metallic as well, though it remains crusty and grime covered, and it works with the complex guitar play that crops up across the album.  Column of Heaven will never be mistaken for Discordance Axis, but some of these riffs give off an early Pig Destroyer-vibe; highly dissonant and textured.  All told, it's a more metallic approach to songwriting and texture, but it's more then crusty and angry enough to remain appealing to the Punk crowds.

What hasn't changed from The Endless Blockade is the relentless aggression, hateful speed and mad electronic rampages.  Mission From God is a non-stop barrage of nihilism and disenfranchisement that clocks in at a brisk seventeen minutes.  There is very little fluff or filler, and with most tracks playing into each other, it's a seamless and satisfying album.  "Entheogen": is a cavernous and oppressive torrent of soundwaves, equal parts hypnotic and devastating.  It takes equal parts Man is the Bastard and Godflesh, fabricating a flawless fragment of Industrial Powerviolence, constructed with animosity and malice.  "Pharmakos" jumps between good ol' Violence and dissonant, atmospheric sections that are as intensely creepy as they are strangely beautiful.  It's a track of stark contrasts, a trademark of The Endless Blockade, and in this regard Column of Heaven is a worthy successor.

Mission From God is fantastic.  It's not a masterpiece, nor do I think it stands on the same level as Primitive overall.  It is, however, an album with no faults: everything works and sounds the way it should, being both instantly familiar yet fresh and dynamic.  I've said this before, but it works for Mission From God as well; this is what happens when a group of talented and smart musicians get together and make something meaningful and solid.  The foundations of this album are tempered and strong, allowing for organic experimentation and good old skull-fucking alike.  I have a sneaking suspicion that some old school fans of The Endless Blockade might not like what they hear on Mission From God, but for just about anyone else, this album is essential listening.

Rating: 8.5/10

As if this album were not awesome enough, Mission From God is also available for "pay-what-you-want" download on the labels Bandcamp page.  Stream it there, and throw a few bucks the bands way for the download.  The album will also be out on vinyl soon, so be on the look-out.  I'll put the link below.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hubeskyla - Spencer's Return (2012)

A large sticker adorns the cover of this LP, as you can see by looking to the left. It implores the reader to 'Play it loud and drive fast!'. Not only is this terribly irresponsible by encouraging poor road safety, it also reveals the album for what it is before one has even begun to lower the needle - a driving album. Now, there's nothing wrong with driving albums per se, but in many cases, unfortunately this one inclusive, it leads to an album which is distinctly devoid of real substance.

Hubeskyla to me appear to take influences from a variety of sources - a lot of noise rock, a bit of jazz rock, a small amount of post-rock and just a little sprinkle of the NeurIsisian axis. These are popular influences, and also the sort that need to be done exceptionally well to avoid making music which amounts to nothing more than bland. Once again, I can't help but feel that 'bland' is the correct term for this album. Not to say that Hubeskyla lack good ideas completely; indeed, there are many present here, but they have a habit of taking the odd good idea, mixing it with a whole bunch of mediocre ones and stretching the whole thing out well beyond its welcome. They've tried to make a 45 minute full-length when in reality they barely have enough material for a 20 minute EP.

There are some elements of how they do things that I really like though - take, for instance, the start of the very first track 'Spanish Firebird'. There is no messing around with some empty ambient introduction before they get to business - indeed, there's not more than 5 seconds of swathing ambience before the first riff starts. And it is a riff-based album, clearly - apparently there's no bass used on the album, but this isn't really apparent until one reads the release notes, which state (I believe, my French isn't perfect) 'There are two main barriers to the simplicity of rock and roll: vocalists and bassists'. Unfortunately, somebody neglected to mention that this is often what makes 'rock and roll' interesting and/or fun to listen to. Riff-wise, this is very much based around sharp, jagged, and often triadic riffs, but too many of the riffs simply sound the same due to the over-reliance on tonic triads in their composition. There's also not enough - once again using the first track for an example, its four minutes are filled with precisely two riffs, one of which consists of three notes, and the other of two chords. Although both of these riffs are clearly intended merely as bases upon which the music develops (they are consistently surrounded by guitar effects and short solos), they dominate the music, not due to the production, but due to the fact that the net effect of the guitar effects and solos is roughly equal to 0.

Much of the album is at the same pace, and hence it's a relief when a track comes along that breaks the tepid warmth of the middle pace used. It's for this reason that 'Spencer Smith' and 'Nucleon Drive Experience' are two of the better tracks on the album - the former uses a slightly faster, decidedly more driving riff than is present elsewhere on the album (and still it is repeated too much), while the latter, which is the closing track, has a slightly slower tempo to it which certainly gives it an air of finality, acting as a redeeming factor for the mediocrity of much of the rest of the album - it sticks in the listener's head after listening, and adds a real sense of having been on a journey over the album, even if that said journey roughly consisted of driving round and round in circles in the desert going nowhere new.

Seven of the eight tracks present here don't use vocals, and this really lends an introspective feeling to the album. There's very much a sense that the band are making the music for themselves rather than for anyone else, and the whole album has a slight feeling of an extended jam session, albeit an extraordinarily well-coordinated one; I would've liked to have seen more of a wild, free-flowing element to the album given the room for improvisation in an album of this type. There are a few solos as previously mentioned, but they feel overly-structured rather than original. The one track which does feature vocals, 'Ne Touchez A Rien' (with Emmanuel Colliard doing guest vocals) is more entertaining than the rest of the album for them despite the fact that the vocals amount to little more than spoken word - the change in the general timbre of the music is very welcome at this point, the penultimate track.

I think all has been said at this point which is relevant to the review, and I will reiterate the most important point here - whilst the band maybe had enough good material for a solid 20 minute EP, what's happened here is they've chosen to extend it to an overlong album. And for that reason, I'm afraid I can't recommend it to anyone.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Adversarial/Antediluvian- Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries(2012)

Adversarial/Antediluvian- Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries

Sometimes life is filled so many good things, it's hard not to take all of it for granted.  Eventually, it all becomes a blur, and our instant access to the vast bounties of information and entertainment obscure the little things that make life worth schlubbing through.  Little things like, oh, for example, a mega split featuring two of Death Metal's defining and original acts unleashing sonic devastation and plague-ridden winds of the occult onto your undeserving and worthless ass.

I try to live for the little things.

Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries is a culmination of destruction unlike just about anything you have heard.  Both Adversarial and Antediluvian bring their A+ + material here; Adversarial, a weapon of mass destruction and unholy fire, and Antediluvian, a cryptic curse of malevolent evil echoed amongst the ruins, have evolved well past many, if not all, of their peers and become something truly diabolical and wicked.  In truth, this split is slightly more important for Adversarial overall, but this harbinger brings forth the Word of two evils with equal vigor and violence.  Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries is not only essential, it's required in this modern age of Death Metal where merely imitating other bands is sufficient for success.

Adversarial start of this split, and this was the side I was easily the most excited for.  The bands debut LP, All Idols Fall Before the Hammer, was to me a disappointing masterpiece.  It was an album that was brutal beyond words yet as dynamic, intense and intelligent as any Death Metal album in history.  It also featured a production which would have killed a lesser album for this reviewer, and made it impossible for others to enjoy.  Between the non-existent vocals, the weak guitar tone and the utterly ruthless ping-holocaust of the snare drum, All Idols Fall Before the Hammer featured a barrier for entry that kept it from the recognition it, and the band, deserved.  Production will not be an issue for those that listen to Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries, as Adversarial's side of the split, titled "Leviathan," features the best produced material the band has released.  The guitars and bass whirl and twist in the vortex, forming a swirling mass of black matter that blots out all light, while the guttural machinations of vocalist Carlos are not lost in the mist but proudly and freakishly inhuman.  And yes, they fixed the snare sound, a triumph even the most masochistic of us can be happy about.  This isn't just the best produced Adversarial material though.  This is the best Adversarial material period.  Even the brilliance of All Idols Fall Before the Hammer pales in comparison to the inhuman feats of bestial guitar wizardry and supersonic percussion on display here.  Their exact sound is (thankfully) difficult to shoehorn into one genre or another.  We hear some Incantation, Blasphemy, Demilich, Angelcorpse and Immolation, but it all feels fluid and organic.  Adversarial are playing with demoniacal fire of their own design, walking a mythical and dangerous path that few have ever tread.  The bands technicality may not jump right out at you, but multiple listens reveal deeply entrenched complexity and inhuman precision.  Discordant riffs and tight, precise drum work drives each track through their serpentine paths of unhallowed entrancement.  "Spiraling Towards the Ultimate End" is particular stands out, not only as the best track on the split, but as one of the best Death Metal songs I've ever heard.  Equal parts haunting and brutal, the track deftly jumps from slaughter to introspective dissonance, and the two minutes or so of the track will leave you feeling cold and dead inside... and I mean that in the best way possible.  With this track alone, Adversarial have ascended, or descended, into true hellish preponderance.

Antediluvian really didn't need this split as much as Adversarial needed it to announce their grand declarations of genocide.  The bands brilliant debut, last years Through the Cervix of Hawaah, was more then enough to put Antediluvian amongst the elite purveyors of death.  That doesn't mean the band didn't try to out-do themselves again on Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries; the bands side of the split, entitled "Lucifer," is an masters-course on occult ritual and demonic influence via sound waves.  Various personal additions have obviously added to the bands improved technical chops, which are leaps and bounds from their early, underwhelming demo material, but it's the song-writing here that stands out most.  Antediluvian take over-used terms like "occult," "creepy," and "evil" much more seriously then many of their peers, and seek to develop them in new ways that isn't "doing it like Autopsy/Incantation/Entombed" did it.  Sure, their sound is informed by the past, with such influences as Incantation, Imprecation and Beheirt coming through quite clearly.  Yet much like Adversarial, Antediluvian have created their own sick rituals of sacrifice and malice, not merely stolen others.  The skin-crawling dissonance of "Dissolution Spires" or the suffocating, rhythmically intense miasma of "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh(I Am That I Am)" are unlike anything I've heard in Death Metal before: familiar yet alien.

I think it might be obvious which side this particular reviewer prefers.  I take nothing away from Antediluvian here: this band is clearly working on a different level from most of their peers, even in the brilliant Canadian Death Metal scene.  Their twisted, deformed nightmares are impressive beyond words and deserving of endless accolades.  But something about Adversarial, really since I first heard All Idols Fall Before the Hammer(well, the first time I heard it.  My first listen was spent mostly cringing) speaks to me on a deeper level.  Their incredible mix of pure technical prowess and atmospheric, emotional detail is without a doubt something to behold in terror and adulation.  To see these two bands working like this to bring down all we thought we knew about Death Metal, it's equal parts unsettling and exhilirating to think what the future might hold.  What can we, as mere mortals, do in the face of such an all encompassing artistic realization of evil?

I don't think we stand a chance.

Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wreck and Reference- No Youth(2012)

Wreck and Reference- No Youth

Deconstructive, ethereal, dripping with a noxious mix of disgust and listlessness, No Youth is this years sound-track of total defeat.  The California twosome of Wreck and Reference have been rolling on a pretty big hype machine since their demo Black Cassette, but No Youth is a different monster entirely.  It heralds the arrival of one of Extreme Music's new titans while exemplifying the limitless potential of a project devoid of barriers, genres and fear.  No Youth is a Universe of sound that expands beyond the horizon into reaches of the void that have rarely, if ever, been tread.  I don't want to use too much hyperbole: No Youth is a triumph of an album and easily one of the best records released this year and this decade, but in and of itself it might not reach the truly hallowed lands of immortality.  What makes No Youth so completely fascinating is the aforementioned formlessness of the album and the fearlessness of the song-writing.  No idea was too big or intimidating for the band, yet the album remains focused, controlled and melancholic. No Youth is the ultimate piece of cathartic expression and flawless craftsmanship.

It's utterly amazing to think that No Youth is an entirely electronic album, considering the massive drone and deluge of static and feedback that comes whirling and whipping from the speakers.  If we are moving into a future of purely electronic music, then No Youth may be a defining release, though the bombastic, explosive drumming on the record keeps it grounded in the real and tangible.  The percussion here is massive and powerful, thundering across the tracks and keeping the often dream-like compositions drowned in hopeless reality.  "Nausea," easily my favorite track on the record, is a perfect example: a slow, Drone intro gives way to an almost oil-and-water mix of slow, ethereal Swans-esque madness driven by thundering Darkthrone-style blast beats.  I can honestly say I have never heard such a dynamic combination of sounds before, and No Youth is over-flowing with these odd, exhilarating moments.

If there is any obvious influence on No Youth and Wreck and Reference in general, it has to be the Swans.  "If" being the key word, but there are a handful of similarities: the utter hopelessness of the vocals and lyrics and the mostly short, concise tracks that still drip atmosphere and anger were both trademarks of Michael Gira's signature project, and both elements are featured prominently on No Youth.  But so is the deluge of static-y, dense Drone/Doom, and at times Wreck and Reference effectively mix both, such as on "Cannot," which dances between somber, dark spoken word poetry to soul-siophoning Doom.  Once again, everything meshes so flawlessly that this seemingly awkward approach to songwriting feels completely natural and focused.  The atmosphere of self-hatred and melancholy remains wholly intact, no matter how ferocious of defeated the music gets.

No Youth is a damn difficult album to talk about: it's easy to heap praise on it, yet tough to pin down  Genre classifications are very hard to come by listening to No Youth, and trying to prepare a listener for the experience is near impossible.  No Youth is an album that just kind of has to be experienced, and the outcome of the experience will be colored by the one who lives it.  No doubt some will find all the sopping wet depression and self-inflicted damage as overkill, or even a bit silly.  Others will be touched deeply by it, and relate with the hopelessness and cathartic intensity of the album.  I can say unequivocally that No Youth is not for everyone.  It's not accessible, rarely melodic and never fun.

It all comes down to craftsmanship and creativity.  Some have one, some have the other and a rare few albums have both.  No Youth clearly has both.  The natural barrier of entry in how dark and defeated the moans and tones No Youth features leads to tough sailing even for the heartened and curious.  No doubt some will be unable to make it into the deeper layers of No Youth.  I can't say that I blame them.  But for the most masochistic, driven listeners among us, No Youth is a can't miss album.  It's an album that doesn't even feel like it ever had any boundaries in the first place, guided only by an unseen hand which dutifully orchestrates the madness and sorrow into a handful of notes and lyrics that evoke a sickened spirit of humanity.

Rating: 10/10