Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 6/28/2005
Affliction, Endocrine... Vertigo
posted on 6/2005 By:
The debut album from France’s Overmars provides some breadth and unconventionality to the Neurosis et al. spawned movement of atmospheric sludge. After a handful of well received splits (one of which was with Donefor, who eventually morphed into Overmars), the band has been considered up and comers in the genre for some time. But with their first full length, Overmars sloughs off the “promising new band” mantle as easily as the Dutch soccer wingman Marc, after whom the band is apparently NOT named, slips his defenders. Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo is the work of a band who has arrived, and there is little doubt that Overmars will carve a substantial space for themselves, even in a genre becoming as crowded as theirs.
The band combines an intellectual, avantgarde artistic flare with a visceral weightiness that together deal out a listening experience similar to being bludgeoned with a hammer thats head is painted like a Fabergé Egg. “Obsolete” is a bitter salutation, and its wall of sound and quicker tempo are accented with a Doppler-like keyboard sample. The second song, “This is Rape”, marks the first appearance of the obligatory marathon tracks, but rather than relying on the typical ebb and flow trajectory, Overmars seems bent on waves of Sonic Youth-styled dissonant anti-climaxes. “Deus Mesures de Solitude”, on the other hand, is entirely a function of climax. The Sonic Youth reference isn’t close to the last non-metal comparisons that are easily apparent on Affliction, Endocrine…Vertigo, yet the album remains firmly rooted within the metal/hardcore arenas. Beginning with the third track, Overmars starts with the curve balls. “Destroy All Dreamers” is a five part song that is split into parts and interspersed throughout the album, serving as Isis-meets-Slint moments of tranquility and clarity, cleansing the palate between longer and/or bizarre compositions. “Buccolision/The Mistaken One pt. II (Geography is just a Symptom)”, is both long and bizarre, and one of the most intriguing songs on the album. Based on a simple repeating piano line, the song uses female, French, spoken word vocals contrasted by a woman’s distant, tortured shrieking. Vicious, male spoken words are added later, which spur more frantic screams from the woman. Both voices are distant, like they’re coming from a chamber behind the wall. I don’t know a word of French, but I’m pretty confident the guy is saying something to the effect of “It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again”. What is most impressive about the album is how often Overmars manage to do the little things right. When they begin to flub the notes of the piano line during the most intense part of the song, it exacerbates the harrowing, frantic mood. Their note selection on the several mellow songs is almost always near perfect, revealing a penchant for lucid yet unusual melody.
The vocal dynamics add texture and depth to the album. Alternating between French and English, and male and female, as well as sung, spoken, and screamed, Overmars’ varied approach compliments their diverse compositions. The addition of clean female melodies to the harsh male vocals on “A Spermwhale’s Quest” warrant another Sonic Youth comparison, while the gravelly harshness of the vocals on “From Love to Exhausting-The Story of This Intangible Thing Between Us” (great title) is reminiscent of Tom Waits. Affliction, Endocrine…Affliction is an album that draws from the master craftsmanship from a variety of directions and blends them into its own voice. My only complaint with the album is that at 70 minutes, it can be difficult to get through the entire album without drifting during periods. It’s not quite as enveloping as some other benchmarks in the genre, such as Isis’ recent works. However, this also has the potential to be one of those albums that reveals something new during each listen, and therefore become much more highly rated over time. Regardless, a debut of this quality is quite impressive.
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