Nearly three years on from their Relapse debut (and nearly six years since their first self release) Richland’s finest have delivered their first LP.
Never the most prolific bunch, their reputation for quality is very much assured. Which sets a good precedent for this album.
The cover art further fuels expectations: simplistic, yet stark. Reminds me of a Rotten Sound record.
Why they chose ‘Blackest Evocation’ as an opener is a mystery, as it’s hands down the worst song on here due to it’s awkward tempo changes.
The band sound more comfortable grinding away for the first forty odd seconds, before going into a more midpaced segment (probably influenced by the likes of Napalm Death) which it maintains for the rest of the song.
It doesn’t gel, and feels like it was self consciously crafted into the song as opposed to a more natural approach.
‘Anathema’ is much better, with Brandon Caldwell pushing his vocals to the limit. The segueway from grind into beat down territory works in this case due to the alternating vocals assaulting the listener as much as the riff.
‘Gruesome Politics’ is pure Napalm worship.
Of course, that’s no bad thing and, in this case, it’s delivered with such aplomb and violence that it immediately takes it’s place at the top of the “best songs on the album” list. Gotta love the bass drums towards the end of the song.
‘Dead Inside’ makes use of a lovely dissonant chord to bridge a gap between grind and a slower section where (as one reviewer noted) Caldwell sounds like he’s throwing up, and the line “all of my friends are in hell / cause if home is where the heart is / then hell must be where I fucking live” incites a good chuckle.
In theory, this LP should obliterate everything around it. But it doesn’t hit those heights, and that’s due to the production. It’s feels hollow, digital and tinny, which has the result of reducing songs like ‘Terror War Industry’ to a lost opportunity.
Last time, Joel Grid’s production muted the power of Shane Brown’s drums, but there was still enough brute force on display to make it an invigorating listen. This time (with Joel still on production duties), the songs overpower in spite of the production, as opposed to because of.
And that’s very disappointing, as there are some great songs on here. I would hazard a guess that, in a live environment, the power of the songs would come across no problem.
Maybe next time?
– 2.5 / 5 - Christopher Owens ::: 22/01/17