Release DetailsLABEL At A Loss Recordings
RELEASED ON 7/1/2003
posted on 10/2003 By:
I never really liked Helmet that much. I don’t like sludge/stoner rock that much. Hence I don’t like 16’s “Zoloft Smile” that much, as it tries to mix the two. A crawling edgy rock album that drones on with flat vocals and lifeless riffs is not my idea of a good time. An underground stalwart for some time, 16 are apparently well respected in the underground, and those that consider Cavity and Helmet “extreme”, might well inhale this dirge filled snore fest with red eyed gusto. Personally, I prefer my music far more energetic. The cleverly themed lyrics of “Grip of Delusion”, would have been better served by something more intense than the Southern drawl it’s delivered with, the threatening nature of the song, is just lost on the groovy rock vibe it kicks out. That pretty much sums up all 10 songs on the album. The semi shouted, spoken vocals of Chris Jerue, just didn’t create any kind of atmosphere for me. The downtrodden, depressing nature of many of the songs never gets conveyed with his monotone warble. And while the sludge rock genre is never going to get you moshing too much, 16 just seem to be lethargic songwriters. Even for the genre, the songs seem stale and pale, as even CoC or Eyehategod managed to drag some intensity into their more somber hazy moments, but 16 never change gears. Heck, if your this boring, maybe rock out some, like the aforementioned CoC, Helmet or something to quicken the pulse-but nothing, a musical flatline is 16’s M.O, and after a 4 year hiatus to boot. Even the slightly more ‘upbeat’, “Workplace on Fire”, is plagued by repetitive structures emotionless shouted vocals that drain it-and that’s the albums ‘fastest’ track. Simplistic song structures defined by songs like “Damone”, “Hearing Voices”, and “Balloon Knot” just don’t carry any weight whatsoever. Despite the grimy guitar tone, the deserted, piss filled subway visage what16 are going for just isn’t created to these ears. On a positive note, the lyrics and production are worthy of praise, creating a backroom beating, violent ambience, that’s only hindered by the laid back style of the music. 16 seem to want to bridge the stoner rock/commercial metal gap, that’s to say inject some modern edgy riffs into the normally torpid sludge rock arena, but quite frankly the two don’t mix, and “Zoloft Smile” shows just that. This could be another one of those genre albums that I’m not fully absorbing, or I may need to listen to this under the influence to fully get its vibe. However, in my fully sober state, I can only recommend Zoloft Smile to those that waited for the last four years in a listless, bong resin induced coma for the return of their heroes.
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