Monday, 9 August 2010

... - Somebody Save Me (2009) 45/100.

Any black metal act connected with the amusingly named Happy Days should be listened to with extreme caution and care. I find it’s best to take these numerous spin-offs with a pinch of salt, not getting too worked up about the lack of quality. Instead, I try as hard as I can to immerse myself in the experience of emotional depressive black metal a la … (Dot Dot Dot), despite how ridiculous numerous aspects of projects like this very one we’re dealing with can become. For example, the lyrical content when dealing with these few musicians who seem to run in the same circles on the underground is usually laughable. Happy Days are particularly guilty of laying on heavy amount of teenage angst and depression but behind the threadbare quality of the lyrics does actually lie some convincing depressive black metal. Lyrics aside, some of the amateurish song writing is fairly decent, despite being amateurish and highly repetitive. … are no stranger to the ways of Happy Days. For example, the opening song to this album, entitled ‘Somebody Save Me’ (already hinting at the terrible lyrical contents), is highly accessible due to its repetitious stance on black metal and powerfully driven vocals.

With the inclusion of a Joy Division cover, the band become more accessible to the average listener, however this can be considered a dangerous move because of how revered and much loved Joy Division are - including by myself. The cover itself is, well, difficult to asses. Obviously, … have attempted to do something different, as opposed to directly covering it in the same fashion as the original. The vocals for the song are rasped and the song is heavily distorted with guitar effects. The backbone melody for the song is essentially the same, but … have tried, and in vain, to do something out-of-the-ordinary. Despite this, we should all consider this song a complete butchering of the original and without merit, despite an attempt at being creative. The song lacks the atmosphere of the original, the passion and the feeling. … are obviously a very emotional group of individuals, given the content of the rest of the album, as well as their various side-projects, but this cover is painful to listen to due to its lack of everything they’re trying to achieve.

Although the lyrics can be instantly written off whenever you come into contact with these musicians, the vocals are a vast improvement over what can be found on the Happy Days records, particularly their early demos. The recording equipment these types of bands use is generally very poor and the vocals tended to suffer heavily at the expense of cheap manufacturing but …’s debut full-length, ‘Somebody Save Me’, makes use of some very convincing rasped vocals. Again, despite the occasionally childish manner of the lyrics, the vocals, despite being largely indecipherable, remain a good way of expressing the mood behind the lyrics, which is evident from the get-go. The lyrical themes are simple - depression. That about sums this albums themes up. It’s all about depression and how the connotations of those words may sound if they had a voice. The mannerisms of the instrumentation and the vocals are very much affected by this word and make it their job to demonstrate what it is like to live inside the mind of a tortured young soul who cannot escape the daily grind of life. I do consider this an emotive album, but perhaps too emotive and definitely self-indulgent, so much so that it can easily grate on the nerves after a while, especially if you put yourself through the torture tracking down the lyrics for these types of bands.

The vocals, as I said, are convincing and packed with emotion. They’re certainly an improvement on the vocals of Happy Days, a band who have attempted something a little different to this particular act by integrating clean vocals in alongside the harsh, depraved rasps. In fact, the clean-meets-harsh style is very fitting for Happy Days, but probably wouldn’t work in this instance seeing as this fuzz-laden, hazy album is incensed that almost the entire duration will be filled to the brim with distortion. There are occasional moments of clean passages, a la in the introduction to ‘The Tears of an Anguished Soul’, but these soon fade away and in comes the hypnotic distortion and rasped vocals which are smeared over the background like blood from a self-inflicted wound. The mostly distorted portrayal suits …. Although repetitive, it does mix-n-match with a variety of tempos, making it a much more bearable listen, although the songs can feel a little too long in length, especially the opening track which clocks in at just over thirteen minutes.

The style of the recording is a lot like all these types of bands - Deep-pression, Happy Days, Secretly in Pain and so on. The guitars, played by S. of Hypomanie, obviously add a lot more credibility to the release, drawing out a slight shoegaze sound to the cleaner parts. Evidently, he can only do so much to save the reputation of this record, but with such a slow building atmosphere, the songs tend to lack punch, even with the addition of some very emotionally excruciating vocals. The approach isn’t as interesting as that of Hypomanie, but sounds a hell of a lot better than the majority of what Happy Days have achieved. ‘Somebody Save Me’ is an average album, but I definitely appreciate the marked improvement from the early days of bands like Happy Days, as well as the more interesting content than the subtle ambiance Deep-Pression fob off as “art”. The production could definitely do with some work. It needs to integrate the drums into the hazy mixture much better than it does. The monotonous drums stand out like a sore thumb for the most part and are left exposed to the harsh realities of how mediocre they truly are, despite a wall of noise trying desperately to mask this aspect. In conclusion, there are more things to appreciate on this album than your average Happy Days affair but it’s definitely a sub-standard, sub-par and occasionally stupendously stupid album (see the Joy Division cover). Don’t even get me started on the bands name.

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