Blindead - Affliction XXIX II MXMVI review
|Album:||Affliction XXIX II MXMVI|
|Release date:||November 2010|
01. Self-consciousness Is Desire And
02. After 38 Weeks
03. My New Playground Became
04. Dark And Gray
05. So It Feels Like Misunderstanding When
06. All My Hopes And Dreams Turn Into
07. Affliction XXVII II MMIX
Frequent loneliness. Diminished responsiveness. Unwilling interventions. Unforgiving treatments. Symptoms resonating in a child with autism.
That's the daunting task Blindead take on with this vast, 7 song, 45 minute concept album: Describing a young girl's world infected with this mysterious disease. Cleverly done, the song titles form a paragraph warning you just how depressing and despondent this tale will be. Do away with smirks and smiles because this opus is not a joyful piece of work. Hearing a creaking upstairs floor, eerie sounding leaky pipes and mumbled voices in the very first few seconds of the first song portrays a drab basement straight out of a Hitchcock film and signals what's yet to come.
First of all, a little info about Blindead. Formed in 1999 out of Poland they feature Mateusz Maurycy "Havoc" Smierzchalski formerly of Behemoth. In the early stages the band put out a couple of demos, went through a few lineup changes and eventually in 2008 ironed out what would be their trademark sound: progressive doom metal glazed with post and sludge metal passages exhibited by their mighty release Autoscopia/Murder In Phazes. When I surf the internet for Blindead I find few words about their albums and judging by the number of "have its" on MS it's safe to say Blindead doesn't have a lot of recognition. I like to think of them as a skeleton in the closet just waiting to get exposed. Like an expensive wrist watch or that brand new car, I want to flaunt Blindead (look at this! look at this!) so more people take notice of this uncelebrated band.
Now on to the album. As an avid follower of the post metal genre, Affliction XXIX II MXMVI incorporates plenty of post/sludge elements common with the "leaders" of the genre today. Neurosis, Isis and Rosetta all come to mind but what makes them varied is their use of doom and progressive metal excerpts that shine in gentle, subtle ways. Given how dark and gloomy the album is, the band's ability to incorporate sporadic spoken word, acoustic guitar, brass horn, and piano without sabotaging the mood is quite amazing. Each song is diverse, never sounding the same. Heavy bass guitar is consistent throughout the album and paired with layered guitar riffs it creates a crushing, massive wall of sound. Percussion has its moments too. Electronic drums and an occasional double bass drum are memorable enough for me to write about them. Clean vocals reminiscent of grunge coincide nicely with sludge metal style screaming. This album really has it all and listening to it straight through, front to back, is the best way to experience it, as with all concept albums. It's post metal music but with an asterisk * next to it.
Affliction XXIX II MXMVI is arguably the most haunting and disturbing album I've ever heard. The electronic soundscapes, keyboards and samples go above and beyond and are the highlight for me. Listening with headphones is recommended because a baby's cry, a playground full of children, or a xylophone are illuminated in surround sound perfection. The atmosphere generated by these certain "images" feel personal, like watching a dead-on cinematic panorama. More so, when there is a story behind an album, whether it's fact or fiction, like The Angelic Process's Weighing Souls With Sand or Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime, emotions get high. Music can be taken on a personal level and we slowly get attached and emotionally invested in the stories being told. I feel this way with Affliction XXIX II MXMVI. Stare at the sublime cover artwork, soak in the tremendous aura of the music and feel free to interpret the lyrics of this masterpiece any way you want to, I think that's what Blindead intended.
Daunting task complete.
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