Release DetailsLABEL Robotic Empire Records
RELEASED ON 1/6/2004
Circle Takes The Square
As the Roots Undo
posted on 3/2004 By:
As an album reviewer, you get very little time to actually sit and enjoy an album because you want to. You always have to move on to the next batch of CDs and even if you thoroughly enjoy an album, it’s often soon washed away by the next group of reviews, good or bad. Gone are the days of repeated continual day long listens of say Left Hand Path or A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria that I used to enjoy before I got into this writing gig.
However, an album has come to my attention, that has me forsaking all other albums due for review, an album so compelling, innovative and draining, that even forthcoming albums by Finntroll and Dismember will be hard pressed to push it out of my CD player, despite their no doubt brilliance.
As the Roots Undo takes the current melodic screamo/hardcore trend and turns it on its head with a bitter dual female/male vocal attack (both clean and spit forth venomously), seething black metal blastbeats, indie rock karma and dreamy interludes of brooding introspection. The genre shattering end result plays like Thursday and Shai Hulud watching Karen Crisis and Candace Kucsulain from Walls of Jericho violate each other with obscene sex toys in a deviant torture dungeon run by Darkthrone (or is that the dream I had last night?). Either way their scathing Uphill Battle –esque take on hardcore, is both a barren and beautiful sonic diatribe that alternates from shuddering raptures of pain and anger to swathes of subconscious reflection via acoustics and instrumental interludes.
Where do I start? This is an album that demands to be listened to from beginning to end, As the Roots Undo just unfolds brilliance at every turn. Each song is an exhaustive listen as CTTS are capable of shifting from beautiful harmonies to acidic hatred and sobering introspection, normally all within one song, making detailed listening an absolute requirement. “Same Shade as Concrete”, fits more moods into its four minutes than a PMS stricken female serial killer. Although some may find CTTS’s chaotic delivery off-putting, I found each caustic scream and riff to be ripe with undulating melodies that only surface with focused listening, much like Shai Hulud. But unlike Shai Hulud, the bitter edge is neither uplifting or soaring, but vehement and strained with psychosis. “In the Nervous Light of Sunday”, highlights the unusual female/male vocal delivery as Drew reaches almost Dani Filth like peaks, and his female counterpart wails with indignant feminine rage or soothes with angelic fury. “Interview at the Ruins”, both pummels and caresses, before revealing CTTS’s softer side with a stunning piano laced, chanted close out, that's thick with sadness, truly moving without being overly whiny or emo. The last three songs on the album though are truly magnificent, with Neurosis like ambience ebbs to start “Non Objective Point of Karma”, CTTS display their unpredictable personality that explodes half way in with a devastating black metal burst with a throbbing bass line reminding me of Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal. As if a polar opposite of the prior track, the nine minute “Kill the Switch” starts in a suffocating fashion, before introducing the now purely heavenly moments of brooding quiet. The sublime closer “Crater to Cough In” follows the same peaceful/turbulent formula as “No Objective Point of Karma”, building to a peak of claustrophobic intensity and emotion.
Lyrically CTTS, while certainly utilizing the cryptic song titles of their metalcore peers, are on Shai Hulud –ish levels of their own lyrically: “Rejoice, A noble birth, a prince is born, behold the birth of violence, beasts of bird and feather cry for our concrete rapture. And if we beg to be put down, unto us the most inspired storm. A princess ravaged by her Prince: behold the birth of sex and distance. Two frail corpses where they, his eyes were the first to stray” (“Same Shade as Concrete”). And while conveying these poetic sonnets, Drew’s clean voice gets a little too whiny here and there, his (and her) screeches are poisonous and spiteful, more than making up for the emo edge that may put off some meal purists.
Production wise, rather than the lush resonant earth tones of typical metal core, CTTS sounds are stark and primitive, with the pulsing controlled bass providing the girth over the flimsy drums and raw guitar tone, but when taken as part of the whole, the unusually barren sound works to convey CTTS’s unique sound.
I normally try to be level headed in my reviews, and try to refrain from gushing too much over an album I wont be listening to in 3 weeks, but in the case of CTTS, I’m not hesitant to throw around words like ‘classic’ and ‘masterpiece’, each listen is a experience in itself. My only concern is the 'emo' tag that comes with the band putting off metalheads cautious of the term and its musical saturation. Fear not though wary reader, any listener brave enough to shed labeling and genres will appreciate the sheer brilliance of this album.
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