Saturday, November 23, 2013

Markradonn - Final Dying Breath

Before even discussing Markradonn’s particular shtick, there is a fantastically bizarre kind of musical ineptitude that must be addressed since it is even more important and apparent than the band’s choice of style. Markradonn on “Final Dying Breath” appear to have absolutely no inclination of what constitutes acceptable repetition for rhythm. Far from being a technical nit-picky complaint, this problem takes a seriously dubious musical concept and makes it nearly unlistenable. Markradonn goes far beyond merely having a repetitive rhythm because the band habitually repeats rhythms that are awkward and disgustingly weak. With that out of the way, Markradonn’s premise is essentially doom/death peppered with random shredding and thoughtless instrumentation choices. What this means is that on top of a persistent and fundamental songwriting problem the band shoehorns in odd instruments, including a brass section, pompously enough to make Bal-Sagoth blush and drop their swords in shame. Along with this they add guitar solos that could very well have been written for songs for a different band. Still, the awful songwriting stands at the forefront above these unusual and poor decisions. The most dreadful part is when the band accents their own weaknesses by emphasizing garbage rhythms with brass sections to create a broken martial sound.

Metal bands don’t typically have a ton of instruments, and for good reason. Most metal musicians lack the ability to write for several different instruments, as it takes all of the challenges of songwriting and multiplies them. Although the members of Markradonn can certainly play their instruments, this doesn’t at all translate into figuring out how to meld metal with the didgeridoo, djembe, tuba, trombone, timpani, french horn, and what feels like everything else in the musical alphabet from accordion to fucking zither. Capable musicianship can mean nothing in the same way that great actors can star in awful movies, a perfectly good tool can be gravely misused. Markradonn misuse their musical assets by carelessly throwing instruments on top of the underlying metal framework. The atypical instruments often just follow the rhythm guitar in the same way that bass players typically do. However, a bass can work in that role because the two instruments compliment each other by design. A trombone is not a bass. This instrument mixing fails in every way, and the band's aberrant ideas unpleasantly clash.What is especially shocking, is how this is the product of several musicians. The compromises inherent in working with others can often have a moderating influences on both creativity and aberrant ideas. Instead, what happened here is a textbook case of groupthink. Some of the music just serves as an ornamentation for the senseless guitar shredding, failing in an attempt to add depth and richness through superficial decoration of scale exercises.

It gets worse, “Cathartic Spiritual Purgation,” the final track, sounds like a drunken Yngwie Malmsteen musically purgating his stomach contents onto a stoned Australian afro-cuban band. This is the kind of song that will make people who have “a worst songs of the year” list have an easy spot to fill and those who don’t have such a list start one just for this song. If you have ever been listening to world music and thought that it could use someone seeing how fast they could play their guitar over it, then this may be the song for you. The silver lining here is that the band closes off “Final Dying Breath” with a song that is completely devoid of their characteristic rhythm disorder/syndrome. This is almost a relief after trudging through things like the repeated 4th beat rest of the flat  lifeless vocals over the gallop rhythm in the song “Final Dying Breath,” or a similarly incessant 4th beat guitar rest in “Internal Hate Unbounded,” and numerous melodic resolutions on weak backbeats. Another rhythmic train wreck of note includes the “Frenzied Winter Sorrow” from about 2:40 until the solo where we have a series of pompous five note chunks, then mindless guitar syncopation, finished off with weak yet momentum murdering rhythms. Even after suffering through all of this, the relatively competent rhythm in the final song does nothing to keep it from being the worst track. In all, this release is so bad that it puts the listener in a bad mood due to its frustrating struggles with fundamental musical concepts. As far as what could generously be called the band’s experimental inclination, it can not salvage the music because Markradonn is musically innovative in the same way that glueing a telephone to an air conditioner with dog spit would be technologically innovative.


Alternative and underground music said...

Ouch! Talk about harsh. At least music like this (be it hit or miss) still exists as a counter to the commercial music that 98 per cent of the remaining population listens to.

Orion M. said...

I think I remember in another review talking - albeit briefly - about how experimentation either works wonderfully or how it fails completely and in truly embarrassingly hilarious ways. This is one of those latter situations.

But yes, you're right, as bad as this is, at least it isn't bubble-gum-mass-produced-piece of consumerism. They are trying something different and hopefully they make their next attempt better.

Even as bad as this stuff is, it's always interesting to hear things that are bizarre and out there, even if they fail.

Thanks for reading!