Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Corrupted - Paso Inferior. 70/100.

Sludge has few interesting acts that make a lasting impression from the first moment you hear them. Corrupted are one of these few. When I first discovered this enigmatic Japanese band through their most recent full-length, ‘El Mundo Frio’, I was instantly captivated by the fairytale material that jolted from soft, luscious melodies produced by a clean guitar, to the epitome of darkness as the distortion rushed in like a destructive gate crasher at a rather formal gathering. I was even further plunged into astonishment when I decided to check out the rest of their discography and noticed that, unlike most sludge bands, Corrupted are intent on deviating from their own standards, let alone the rest of the traditions of sludge. Though this is a hybrid band, incorporating crushing doom into their lucid soundscapes, Corrupted bring together a fresh sound through old ideas. The concept of a doom/sludge hybrid is not new. I don’t imagine that Corrupted, despite their age, pioneered it, but they certainly did influence many, many bands from inside and outside of Asia. Their music, despite ascertaining to some Japanese traditions as on the multi-cultural ‘Se Hace Por Los Suenos Asesino’, has a global appeal because of the fresh twists implied on the old methods.

Corrupted do consist of long, winding doom laden atmospherics that are built for the purpose of destroying everything within its path, and Corrupted do impose a thick aggressive sludge lining along the base of their material like it is cement, holding the pieces of this intricate cog together, but Corrupted also incorporate sections of instrumentation that wouldn’t normally be associated with a hybrid of this nature. Their lyrical genius, for instance, is something most sludge bands fail at. Whilst there are a few notable acts of interest, like Fall of Efrafa for example, the majority of sludge bands don’t portray their lyrics in an array of different languages, each of which draws in a new face from a different cultural background. The majority of Corrupted’s lyrics are in Spanish, but they also operate within English and Japanese semantic fields which opens up the limitations imposed on bands who sing in one language. In most walks of life, it is seen as an added bonus if one can speak multiple languages and that feeling should be no different in regards to music. Of course, this well documented scope isn’t the most intriguing aspect of Corrupted, nor will it ever be, but it is worth mentioning as there are numerous people who see the lyrical content as a pivotal aspect of the music.

After all, the instrumentation is meant to be describing the lyrics without directly using them. Although ‘El Mundo Frio’ is a superb addition to the sludge dimension, it doesn’t prepare the listener for the previous efforts as they all differ from one another. Whilst ‘El Mundo Frio’ takes it upon itself to deceive by providing soft and harsh passages on repeat with spoken vocals, acoustics and introspective guitar effects imposed on the atmospherics for the soft parts and guttural growls, distorted guitars and heavy percussion for the harsh parts, each of the remaining full-lengths do not wish to impose upon this original take by ‘El Mundo Frio’ and deviate from it. ‘Se Hace Por Los Suenos Asesino’, for example, is split into three shorter songs, each varying from the other as it places sullen acoustics and clean vocals alongside a wrenching doom epic in ‘Rato Triste’. In regards to ‘Paso Inferior’, these ideas are neglected once again. This record indicates to me that Corrupted were not satisfied with a discography that sounded similar from beginning to end as it is a transformed entity from the latter day records which contain far more experimentation in all areas. This is a strict doom inspired sludge record for the most part, though it does include subtle drone soundscapes.

Though it may begin ominously in a slow daunting fashion, the intensity is taken up a notch as all elements of this dissonant world become heightened and amplified. The slow churning distortion of the heavy handed guitars becomes a vocal point of the soundscapes, tearing our insides out, piece-by-piece, like some sort of deranged medieval masochist employed by the government to keep control of the population. The hands of wrath strike down in the form of overwhelming distortion. There is a feeling that this record may take some influence, however small, from the drone genre, or at least a hybrid genre of drone and doom place fittingly alongside each other in a scary, monumental sort of way. Like many of the drone/doom classics, this record takes an age to get into, but when it does finally suck you in to its whirlwind of distortion, the affects of such an eerie atmospherical piece are bound to stay with you forever. It is in the presence of the second guitar, with its numerous effects, that the swirling motion is created and forcefully pulls us in. When people talk about records with a nightmarish atmosphere, this should surely be in the back of their minds.

The repetitious guitars, which swirl into oblivion as distorted rays of darkness, extinguishing the light from our lives, the hope from our hearts, remind me of the universal nightmares we have as children where we’re running away to escape some evil force and though we try ever so hard to move faster, we’re gradually slowing down and being consumed by the severity of the situation. Like all crescendos and all dreams, everything comes to an end eventually and though this never reaches the pulsating rate of mid-pace, it does burst into flames as the distortion sees us out with a slap across the face. This record does contain some creativity, but much of it is lost beneath the distortion and the consequences of playing such a minimal style across such a long period of time. The vocals are better when they’re clean, in terms of Corrupted’s own portrayal. They consist of more varied emotions and whilst this record is always angry, and the vocals combine well with this, the lack of true insight is a downfall. Having heard the variation present on the last two full-lengths, ‘Paso Inferior’ is ironically that in comparison - inferior.

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