Success Will Write Apocalypse Across The Sky
The Grand Partition And The Abrogation Of Idolatry
posted on 5/2009 By:
Well, that was pretty much my opening paragraph, I suppose.
Originally, I didn’t want to mention the somewhat long band and album name (or song titles) because it would be a trivial and obvious discussion that really doesn’t have a place in reviewing any music. But you know what? Several listens to The Grand Partition… later, the never-ending-names are possibly the only element from this band that stands out. So touché on your marketing prowess guys, but I still can’t remember the album title off hand, and the abbreviation SWWAATS sounds like a skater clothing brand (or an exam). I’m already furious this has taken up so much space.
If I had a unit of currency for every time I heard a death/grind album being described as "brutal," "crushing," "face-melting" or "break-neck," I'd have enough money to start my own identity-driven extreme footwear business. Of course this album is all (except the footwear business) of those things; structurally grindy, but sonically creeping much further into death metal territory, SWWAATS’s debut album is aggressive, heavy, fast and chaotic - but not nearly as much as they believe it is, or has the potential to be.
If you’re not bringing your A-game in sonic intensity though, you simply need to make it memorable, which they have also not done. I’m sure there is a live performance that would shove my desk-scribed criticisms down my throat, forcing me to choke up that marketing comment, but much of the album flounders somewhere around predictable, yet passable. The guitar work is adequate but bone-dry and the tempo changes are welcomed but not entirely effective. The only track that really abrogates the weary wanderings and just flows is “Cattle,” displaying an unrepeated killer chorus, followed by an unexpected old school lead and some of the structural dynamics that really blossom in this particular combination of death and grind. Tracks like “Agenda” and “A Path” try desperately to match those appealing moments, but they just can’t get there again for the rest of the album.
Compared to the band's 2007 Subhuman Empire EP, the raw violence has definitely been restrained, possibly thanks to a thick layer of better production provided by the capable hands and ears of James Murphy (you know him). Vocalist John Collett has done well to develop his sound towards articulation and lose the chin-impaling-chest infrared grunts associated more with Dying Fetus and Severe Torture. His lyrics are a crucial part to the band’s persona, and it serves their performance well to project their anti-mankind we-need-to-change-our-ways message, if only for a sense of importance. I’m not sure anyone has told them that metal has been about sticking it to the man for more than 30 years, not just since they appeared from the underground scene in Tampa, Florida.
Experiencing the The Grand Partition… blindly is a luxury I wish I had had. Unfortunately, listening with a full grasp of the band’s style and message is much like seeing the movie before reading the book, you just can’t interpret it the way you want to and it will never grow on you. I wouldn't say this record was unsuccessful, but it certainly doesn't merit any writing across the sky.
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