Release DetailsLABEL This Dark Reign
RELEASED ON 6/6/2006
Under the Ancient Penalty
posted on 10/2006 By:
Lumbering, self-loathing, oppressive, and well-trod stoner metal, that is Negative Reaction. This is not for dainty art appreciators or flimsy bandwagoners who've latched onto the doom aesthetic. This is music for miserable, disaffected fucks by ... you guessed it. And while this album is very far from perfect, it emotes so vividly that its predictable flaws are at times forgivable.
Every once in a while I'm pleasantly surprised to find that certain kinds of albums are still being made. Negative Reaction have made just that record. It is a bitter, no thrills cut of admittedly one-trick stoner doom that doesn't even appear aware of current bastardizations of the form. While steeped in convention, almost to a fault, Negative Reaction's grounded approach plays like a breath of fresh air in a time when many stoner and doom bands are attempting to cross-over. Openers "Lost" and "Loathing" are two of the more accessible pieces on the album, and feature some of the faster sections to be found on Under the Ancient Penalty. While the viscous, sludgy riffing comes straight out of the Bongzilla and Sleep school, these early tracks also remind Kylesa in its subtle vocal references to Nausea and livelier pacing. These are definitely the catchiest tunes on Under the Ancient Penalty, and also show off the most memorable and cohesive riffing. However, these tracks also give a slightly misleading representation of what is to follow. "Pain" is an early transition point on the album that brings a halt to the more rocking atmosphere of the first two tracks, in favor of a more droning and depressive main act. There's less accessible groove on songs like "Pain" or the expansive closer "Alone," but they also turn out to be the most rewarding. Where this album does drag, despite its charm, is in the middle few tracks that seem to wash together in sea of similarity. Whether it's a matter of track ordering, or tired riffing -- the stretch of four songs between "Pain" and "Alone" drag perceptibly, and take considerably longer to appreciate.
Due to it's inconsistency, Under the Ancient Penalty is sort of a fringe album. There are certainly fans of the style that I would recommend this to without a second thought, but metal fans as a whole should proceed with much more caution. Despite some trilling moments of masterfully crafted stoner doom, this one can drag just a bit too much.
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