Release DetailsLABEL Bland Hand Records
RELEASED ON 10/24/2005
posted on 5/2006 By:
I had a really hard time wrapping my head around this one, probably longer than any other album I’ve heard lately. Stumped is more like it, which I don’t get, especially considering the subject matter really isn’t all that challenging to comprehend, and perhaps that is the entire problem concerning my writer's block here. At one time known as Revelation when they were signed to Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above label in the early 90’s, Against Nature is a Baltimore 3-piece doom outfit who’s music definitely takes more than a few repeated spins to become accustomed to. After a long period of inactivity, the band has been extremely productive in their recorded output since their return/renaming in 2004, with two albums in the works and possibly being recorded as you read this. If their new material sounds like any sort of progression from this disc, it’ll be interesting to discover how their new albums will turn out after the somewhat transitional, sporadically retro feel of Appease.
As is the case with many doom bands, Against Nature supplies it’s fair share of groove and traditional lurching snail-paced segues, leaning towards more of the slower stoner side with light drone accents similar to Saint Vitus, rather than the black/death metal side as is the case with Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, or YOB. I’m not sure where or how this album was recorded, but it was obviously done with a limited or self-financed budget, which is fine, but the weird tuning of the guitars coupled with the muted finish of the mix ends up robbing some of the more key riffs of their vibrancy. Every once in a while it’s nice to hear doom that doesn’t have the single-minded intention of leveling everything in a wall of reverb and sloth paced downtuned, downpicked simplicity, and Appease is adorned with just enough lively, jazz-influenced nuance to keep your eyes from glazing over due to droning pointlessness.
John Brenner’s vocals are a bit on the fence with me however, as his tone is rather flat and a little too Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers-ish for my taste, but I and see how he would appeal to those who enjoy that sort of deeply stoned aesthetic. In a way, the vocals seem like the most essential ingredient to what makes Against Nature interesting, but they’re also the one aspect that seems to have been given the least amount of attention. Realistically, John’s style of singing makes for a perfectly acceptable fit alongside the feel and pacing of Appease since it’s an album that isn’t very urgent in any way aside from the colorful, psychedelic solos, and an occasionally much-appreciated quickening of tempo to a more mid-paced shimmy.
The musicianship is unquestionably good, and there are a few occasions where each of the musician’s virtuoso capabilities shine through during busily-executed, spunky, good time rock and roll flourishes. Overall, a tapping of the foot or nodding of the head just can’t be helped if you’re in the mood for it, but if your mind is somewhere else, there isn’t a great deal to offer here which will keep your attention from straying to other things. In other words, you probably wouldn’t pick this as a “sure bet” during moments of listening indecision while flipping through your CD wallet, even if you worship all that drones.
Production and vocal issues aside, Appease is good a doom album that doesn’t sound depressed, ponderously heavy or dismally melancholic, but also doesn’t tread into that dreaded hippy-dippy state of “let’s put our hands in the air and sway” self-indulgence. The Polyphonic Spree this is not. I hate to say that I found it to be a little difficult to follow in the end due to the complacency of the songwriting, but there’s no point in being uptight since the grooves are still catchy despite sounding a little too carefree. For doom connoisseurs Against Nature is worthy of further investigation because Appease does have a thoroughly lackadaisical charm to it, but for those of us with less patience and/or attention span, about four songs in it’ll either be time for a nap, or time to throw on some Necrophagist.
Register to post comments.