The Drought (Ov Salt And Sorrow)
posted on 12/2010 By:
As consumers of music, it’s easy to lose sight of just how complex recording and releasing albums can be. After all, we just see the neatly-wrapped final product, and it doesn’t look that complicated. But the tortuous process that leads to that jewel case in your hands often determines the character of the album, as it did for this intriguing but uneven album.
In fact, The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow) wouldn’t even be an album if Pristina had their way. The 23-minute title track was originally intended as a stand-alone EP, but by the time the band had finally found a label to release it, they had recorded four other tracks, and they elected to release all five together as a full-length.
And you can hear the strain and frustration that Pristina endured during the recording process in the songs themselves. Stylistically, this band plays what I think of as ‘real metalcore’—not the melodeath-with-breakdowns abortion that the genre became, but music that actually melds elements of metal and hardcore punk. Pristina’s particular brand of the stuff draws heavily on the 90s-era Philly scene dominated by Starkweather and Turmoil—kinda mathy, kinda tribal, and thoroughly bilious.
Pristina is a gifted group of musicians, and they’re able to perform this challenging music with considerable aplomb. The Drought is loaded with vicious moments, and opener “Moonshiner” is one of the best specimens of this gnarly style I’ve heard in recent years. Bassist Brendan Duff especially deserves mention for his harrowing vocal performance. I find myself tempted to recommend The Drought to metalcore devotees simply because it’s a strong example of an increasingly rare style.
But this album does suffer considerably from pacing issues. After three (relatively) conventional cuts, the band launches into a surprisingly successful cover of Today Is the Day’s “Temple of the Morning Star,” which serves as a preface to the lengthy title track. I appreciate Pristina’s ambition here, but it’s simply not possible to compose a coherent song of such length in this vein.
Like the rest of the album, it includes a bunch of killer moments, along with guest vocal spots from Scott Angelacos (Bloodlet), Rennie Resmini (Starkweather), and Steve Austin (Today Is the Day), who recorded The Drought. But by the time the track’s four-minute drum solo concludes—around minute 14, but who’s counting?—the thread has been lost. The song simply isn’t cohesive enough to justify its length, and it’s a chore to maintain focus through the whole thing.
“The Drought” should have been recorded as three or four different tracks rather than as one. But it’s not a crippling flaw, and The Drought remains a testament to the power of this sadly declining niche. Oh yeah, and one of these guys was in Dry Kill Logic. What?
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