Consistent productivity brings superb results. And Uniform prove it.
In the press notes, singer Michael Berdan states that “In Stephen King’s book, ‘The Walk’ is a shorthand colloquialism for an annual race ordered by a totalitarian American government called ‘The Long Walk’.
In this contest, 100 boys are made to walk south from the Maine/Canada border at a constant rate of 4mph until only one is left standing.
The winner is granted anything he wants for the rest of his life, while a far more nefarious fate awaits the 99 behind him. It is one of the most cynical stories I’ve ever read and speaks volumes to many of the ugliest parts of the human condition.”
“Over time I’ve come to view aspects of the book as loosely parallel to feelings I’ve had towards organized religion and capitalism, where for some people an unattainable ideal is set as an absolute. We allow ourselves to be broken under rigidly defined norms regarding traditional strata, where lack of compliance leads to ostracization and success as dictated by religious and economic rule often leads to the disintegration of one’s own hopes and dreams. As someone existing in late capitalism who sees beauty and personal empowerment in many of the basic tenants of all world religions, these are subjects that I wrestle with constantly.”
I have to admit, predictably, I read the title as a Judge Dredd reference (retiring Judges take the Long Walk into the Cursed Earth, spending their last days as a kind of Wyatt Earp type, taking law to the lawless).
Although there are parallels with the King story, there are other connotations at play (Judges with secrets can be sent on the Long Walk instead of being punished, the idea of the individual against a corrupt environment), it still works with the content of the album.
Walk On Home, Boy
Predictably, we begin proceedings with ‘The Walk.’ Lasting nearly six minutes, it’s a deeply atmospheric piece that feels like the soundtrack to a trek through the woods during a snowstorm.
The addition of Liturgy’s Greg Fox as a drummer brings a swing and groove to the track, although the production renders it sounding like a drum machine. Not a bad thing if you ask me.
The heavy distortion present on the first LP is present. Although nowhere near as suffocatingly thick as the recent album with The Body, turned up it still hits the listener. Vocally, the distortion still puts enough of a wall up between singer and listener. The end result is the whole song feels and sounds like a cry for help.
‘Inhuman Condition’ is a shorter, doomier song and this is where Fox shines as a drummer, by giving a human element to a very machine sounding band. It’s relentless, scathing and the chords sound utterly massive. It’s an exercise in catharsis.
‘Found’ sees a choppy, staccato riff and a much faster pace, with the rhythm section combining to sound like a bulldozer.
The drum work on here is immense.
I can’t tell if Fox is playing blast beats, or if it’s just the distortion. Whatever the case, it’s intense and somewhat psychedelic as well, as it overpowers the music and takes the listener on a journey that feels like a speeding car on an empty motorway.
Going back to the notion of a journey, closer ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ feels like a crawl up a mountain due to the pace. About halfway through, it all goes to hell as Fox indulges in some blast beats, making the whole thing sound quite black metal. A perfect way to close such a record.
The use of distortion (both on the music and vocals), the concepts, the hints at Catholicism (look at the titles on side 2. ‘Headless Eyes’, ‘Anointing of the Sick’, ‘Peaceable Kingdom’) and the cover all suggest a record For The Times. And it is, certainly. But it’s more than that as well.
Our inability to communicate, the heavily interpreted meaning of statements, the freedom to express through noise, the notion of struggling to make ends meet, breaking your back for people you don’t respect. These are matters that we’ve had for a long time. And ‘The Long Walk’ certainly adds fuel to the debate around these issues.
Not on a par with ‘Mental Wounds…’, but a more than worthy follow up to ‘Wake in Fright.’
4 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 07/08/18