Friday, October 4, 2013

The Lumberjack Feedback - Hand of Glory

I sat down to listen to this EP and instead of a casual listen, I intended to pay attention to every last note in a feeble attempt to immerse myself in the music. As I listened, “Hand of Glory” started off with a thunderous intro of dynamic drums with both guitars and bass having jealousy-inducing tones, just like it had during my previous listens. This time though, something strange happened. I was focusing on the music and found myself enveloped. A slow creeping wave came over my body as note after note sustained outward to create endless surges of aimless buildup. Blackness started to consume me as the almost tribal pounding of the drums gangled about the two long instrumental songs. The rich tonality of the EP swirled about, and I drifted away. I drifted right into a damn nap. This EP honestly put me to sleep. Asleep at a time when I was going out of my way to stay alert. “Hand of Glory” is the kind of music that requires listeners to force themselves to experience. Everything is so monotonous and flat that it simply can not command any attention. Instrumental metal isn’t inherently a problem, but the band makes it one here because none of the instruments volunteer to take up the conspicuous melodic role usually filled by vocals. Guitars serve this purpose with more extreme genres of metal, but here they are just a backdrop. Everything feels like background noise. Aside from the very first moment where the song starts in one speaker and then suddenly doubles up, the EP is extremely predictable. Take for example the chord progression from around 3:50-4:30 in “The Dreamcatcher.” Almost even before it starts you know its destination, its nowhere.

With excellent production and beautiful sounding instruments The Lumberjack Feedback was off to a good start. However, the songs are simply overwhelmingly boring. After about two minutes into “A Whisper To The Thunder,” the band almost manages a good riff with the soaring guitar over the soporific chugging. But, for The Lumberjack Feedback to fill the shoes of their obvious influences like Pelican and Isis it will take more than just good equipment and one almost good riff. Bad sludge metal is like bad thrash in this way, everything ends up sounding really similar and formulaic. In the same way that you can’t tell one song’s feel or emotion from the other, each section within each of the two songs fails to convey anything. Maybe it is a metaphor, the band sends people tumbling downward into sleep in the same way that lumberjacks knock down trees. Plodding forgettable riffs as chainsaws, boring boring away at you with the same rarely-wavering rhythm of a small engine. After feeling that the band never once changed their tempo, I consciously checked and realized that they actually had, which means that they managed to change speed without having ever appeared to. Musically breaking the laws of physics. The EP is all just one constant buildup and is lacking the kind of tension and resolution you can get out of bands like Isis. This is metal elevator music, so while its really tiresome and fades into the background, it isn’t overtly awful unless you are trying to enjoy it for its own sake.

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