mercoledì 6 marzo 2013

Review - How to Destroy Angels - Welcome Oblivion

The industrial adventure continues for Trent Reznor and company in the How to Destroy Angels, which also boasts Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Mandig, Atticus Ross, and Rob Sheridan in its lineup. The group has actually existed since 2010, when it released an eponymous extended play. An EP hit last year as well. If you haven’t really heard of this band up until now, don’t worry, that’s because the foursome has only just gotten around to releasing its first full-length album, called Welcome Oblivion, which hits store shelves and digital retailers today.

As a whole, if you haven’t enjoyed the type of techno-esque industrial that Reznor is known for and which has become slightly more computerized as the years progressed, then Welcome Oblivion might not be for you. It’s certainly atmospheric and roomy, like opener “The wake-up”, which sets the stage for the creepy and doom-obsessed “Keep it together”, which was released late last year. Mandig’s vocals are saccharine in this sprawling track that blooms like a deadly rose full of thorns. What felt wide open now gets claustrophobically smaller in “And the sky began to scream”, which is tinny and smaller, Mandig’s voice distorted and distanced over harsh synth stabs. The organ strain is the stuff of nightmares.

“Ice Age” is a refresher, with an eerie cacophony of plucked string instruments serving as a sparse backdrop against Mandig’s full vocals. This one was released last year as well with an apocalyptic music video as accompaniment. For a real divisive pull between your aural senses, listen to “On the wing”, which features sharp handclaps and spacey synths clashing against the grainy melding softness of Mandig and Reznor’s interweaved vocals, hardly audible in parts. “Too late, all gone” is a testament to beauty, but with jaunty, disconnected verses that build up to soaring, sturdy choruses, it loses elements of flow.

“How long?” makes up for it though, featuring much more cohesiveness and a thrilling, blasting chorus that combines all portions of the band. “We fade away” is positively ghastly, with what sounds like sirens emanating over the quieting vocal prowess of Mandig and Reznor. The synths build louder and louder, drowning out even the siren-esque noises, then all goes quiet for more spooky sound effects and whispery singing. The song grows across an expanse of nearly seven minutes.

Nearing the end of the album is “The loop closes”, which is largely an instrumental repeat until Reznor kicks in on vocals, repeating the chorus to the song’s completion. Ending the manic ride is “Hallowed ground”, a peaceful drone with fuzzy synths, Reznor’s familiar piano strains, and cooing vocals.

At times full of ambiance and at times chokingly constricting, How to Destroy Angels’ Welcome Oblivion uses little more than suspense-building synths and some talented vocal work to get into your head and put your nightmares on display. It’s probably Reznor’s mostly profoundly scary and gloomy work in a long time, thanks no doubt to the talented accompanies of Mandig, Ross, and Sheridan.

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