Trampled, Scratched and Covered in Cobwebs but still it Spins
The Lament Configuration
Earache recordings 2002
Waiting for Rain
The Sleeping Throne
For this week’s installment I will be reviewing a CD that arrived unsuspectingly in the mail within a package bearing an Earache logo, it was quite the pleasant surprise I am pleased to admit. This is the first time I have been sent a physical disc to review and I am honored to be able to do so.
If one were to Google or YouTube the name of this release (I’m guilty of it) you will find a screen filled with images and/or clips of puzzle boxes, prominently displayed is the “Box” from the Hellraiser series of movies. This is the ultimate Lament Configuration a collection of shapes that when manipulated into certain positions will indeed deliver both grief and sorrow.
The CD’s cover is very unassuming, the band’s title and the name of the CD may be the only possible thing that gives this release’s overall theme and musical style away, and I’m very curious as to what that might be.
The cover depicts (an unprofessional guess here) a piece of art in both watercolors and chalk. The character is outlined with very dark highlights and is looking upwards, the throat is bared perhaps suggesting “You’ve taken everything else, now take me. I’m through with this world, I have nothing to live for anymore.”
The name of the band, December, is a month known to be very dreary and lifeless and part of this release’s name – Lament – means to mourn deeply, to express sorrow or regret. I am to only assume, therefore, that this may be a CD with an overall dark theme, and perhaps even a doom style, but I can’t for the life of me think of another band on the same label who specialize in this particular genre. That being said, Earache are a label renowned for signing and promoting acts that don’t quite fit into any specific genre but rather bands that prefer to carve their own music niches. They have famously released some very unique and genre defining acts over the past twenty five years, Napalm Death’s Scum was their first major release (in 1987).
Onward to the music.
The Lament Configuration was recorded in 2001 and released in 2002.
The person responsible for the torturous vocal cord salvo, and (I’m thinking) a closet packed with throat lozenges, is Mark Moots. He cites influences from such acts as Burnt by the Sun, Napalm Death, a plethora of others I haven’t even heard of and The Deftones (he added as an afterthought in an email exchange). I can distinctly recognize both the Napalm Death and Deftones influences (the Adrenaline release especially).
The first track, Icenine, fades in from white noise and immediately propels you unapologetically into a cyclonic fury of musical intensity.
The music style is tricky to define. It is hardly death or thrash metal, or even grindcore, although it does seem closer to this than to any of the aforementioned in my opinion. It is the structure of the songs and playing style within this release that keeps the band out of the realms of death or thrash. Many of the riffs have more of a choppy and frenzied feel rather than a repetitious fast gallop or break-neck pace.
The vocal style is harsh and unforgiving, they range from a grunt and growl attack (which often times sounds like two people) to a banshee screech of such intensity it can be likened to that of a fighter jet taking off (believe me I live perilously close to an airport!).
While listening to this release I’m often reminded of bands such as Brutal Juice and even at times Chum (a band with a disappointingly short lifespan who were also very genre-indefinable) the riffs in the beginning of track four, Host, remind me a great deal of those used in their Dead World release (1996). At other times I can close my eyes and it’s easy to believe I am listening to a strange grindcore hybrid beast, perhaps a bastard offspring spawned from the combined loins of Pig Destroyer and Commit Suicide.
The seventh track, Token Gesture, is one of many that displays their unique style, talents and influences prominently. This track especially, in my opinion, relies heavily on a Napalm Death type vibe, I actually expected a cameo from Barney at some point within the track (sadly didn’t happen!) The definite groove, vocal brutality and (slight) homage found nestled (comfort in a brutal track?) in this track make it my favorite, another standout among many.
No expense was spared in the production department, which is impressive every instrument is clear and unmistakable. Devon Townsend (of Strapping Young Lad) handled both mixing, production and engineering.
At no given point throughout the album did I hear clean vocals or anything resembling that of a more traditional singing style. I also failed to locate anything a keyboard or anything even remotely resembling an introduction to any of the tracks, be it instrumental guitar, atmospheric soundscapes, old movie sound clips or otherwise.
The sonic barrage rarely slows down, and it’s not until the final moments of the album that something hints at being less chaotic and even perhaps tranquil, but it’s only the merest of glimpse, before the CD stops spinning and it’s time to rearrange the furniture back to where it was before the unmistakable urge to move possessed you into something resembling an uncontrollable spastic and nuclear fueled appendage revolution.
In conclusion, if you are up for something a tad heavier than usual, something that may have passed you by …a mere thirteen years ago!
You might want to consider giving this release a spin. I can’t guarantee it will keep you awake on long road trips, but it will make driving a little more enjoyable. It will, however, ensure your in-laws will leave (at last!) if it’s played at high volumes at family gatherings which seem to last (forever!) longer than perhaps they should.
I quite honestly don’t know how this release passed me by, but hey, it’s all good we got to discover it together.
Go on, piss off granny, buy this and play it loud!
I wholeheartedly recommend it without any reservations or guilt whatsoever!