Author and Punisher
The Painted Army
posted on 12/2005 By:
They say things come in threes, so I suppose it makes sense that as my year draws to a close that Author and Punisher take the final place in a triangle already including ‘05 albums from fellow unsigned but highly impressive acts Fall of the Idols and Una Corda. Reviewing material from unsigned bands is often a chore, but every once in awhile you find something that you feel lucky to have uncovered. Something you would actually want to buy on your own, if you knew it even existed. When I saw the name Author and Punisher my first inclination was that this might very well be a train wreck of a one man project, as unless you’re Trent Reznor, such affairs usually work very well or not at all. Maybe Tristan Shone is no Reznor, but he could very well be his apprentice, and The Painted Army shows that he has carefully crafted the armaments adorning a pretty hate machine of his own. The first Author and Punisher effort is a dense and meticulously constructed slab of industrial noise that recalls the sound of the last couple Nine Inch Nails albums with a hunger that was missing from With Teeth.
One of the first things you’ll notice about The Painted Army is how damn good it sounds. For a homemade project, this is just outstanding. That clarity and balance is important to this style, and Shone shows a talent for both sides of the recording desk. Album opener “40 to 1 nicely encapsulates the Author and Punisher sound, using meticulous layering of differently paced guitars, keyboard, and seismic rumbling of electronic percussion. Shone wisely uses electronics to not only add melody, but just as often, to provide warped discordance. What makes this style work is the artist’s ability to convey that to the listener a sense of mechanical manifestations of psychological wildfires, and contrast the cold and clinical aesthetic of the instrumentation with a bitter, passionate voice; and Shone’s delivery is confident, intense, and impressive. Again, what is often a weakness for one man projects becomes a strength here. The material is reasonably varied, from a heavier, more riff driven sound (especially “Mask of Dawn”) to more buoyant and electronic. Throughout, the album retains the intensely personal vibe that creates the tautness necessary for the material to matter. Only minor inconsistencies, most notably during the album’s slower, self titled title track, keep this album from earning an even higher score. Regardless, Author and Punisher is onto something, and Shone makes the most of nearly all of the album’s thirty-eight minute play time. If you’re into this style, Author and Punisher will be a most welcome find, and I’d wager that this author still has words left to write.
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