Do you like being disturbed by your music? I don’t mean being slightly off put or kind of tilting your head at something when it doesn’t fully compute with your senses. I mean music that crawls inside your belly, builds nests, churns you, freaks you out, and gnaws at your soul. Are you cool with that kind of experience? Because I am, and I wish it happened a little more often.
I have a friend who cannot listen to Pink Floyd because it just freaks her out to no end and cannot handle their weird, claustrophobic psychedelics. I know what she means about how strange some of their music is and how it can make you feel like you’re being abducted and jettisoned into space, but that’s one of the things I like about that band. Not hearing the hits on repeat, but letting it get into my blood cells and freeze me to death with its chilly ambiance. It’s the same way I feel when I listen to Pinkish Black, the Fort Worth, Texas, based duo that is getting ready to unleash its second record “Razed to the Ground” upon an unsuspecting world.
The band made an immediate impact on me when Handmade Birds sent me their debut full-length, one of the most bizarre, spiraling, impactful records I had heard that year, and their penetrating synth drone, knuckle-snapping drumming, and detached, buried, haunting vocals made that album one that I listen to regularly to this day, especially if it’s late at night and I want a chill up my spine. The duo of Daron Beck, who handles vocals and synth, and Jon Teague, who is on drums, keys, and loops, were something completely different, a band that mixed cold, isolated darkwave, post-punk, and doom into a wholly unique package, one that is completely unclassifiable. So why are we talking about them on a metal site? Well, there’s definite crossover for the more ambitious listeners out there (especially those who, like me, are enthralled any time a release from a label like Handmade Birds comes down the pike), and because they know are signed to Century Media, a decidedly metal-heavy label where these guys seem particularly not at home. And because they are fucking great, and “Razed to the Ground” takes their cold, cosmic, mentally punishing music to new levels and have created one of the year’s most captivating records. In any genre.
If you’re not familiar with the band’s story, they used to play as a trio with bassist Tommy Atkins as The Great Tyrant, but Atkins committed suicide and was found in a bathroom. The appearance of his blood on the walls took on a pinkish-black color, hence how they got their name. Morbid? You bet. So is the music. This time, the synth and drone is not quite as penetrating, letting the synth breath and swirl through the cosmos. The record definitely has a more atmospheric feel to it, but at the same time, a more sorrowful one. The songs are amazingly dark tapestries of human emotion, pain, and anguish, and the record gets more infectious with each listen, much like their debut.
Opener “She Left Him Red” is the song most like what you heard on their debut, with synth grinding through your senses, noises rising and bathing you with chaos, and Beck’s vocals buried a million miles beneath the surface but still existent nonetheless. “Ashtray Eyes” is the best song this band ever has written, and it’s one of the eeriest and most cosmic track they’ve ever done, making you feel like you’re being swept away on a cold wave. The vocals are somber and emotional, the melodies feel like a funeral dirge, and the brooding ambiance weighs down hard, leaving no way for you to be unaffected. It’s a killer. “Kites and Vultures” is threatening and murky, with keys stabbing and Beck sounding a bit like a despondent Ian Astbury as he wails over the dizzying melodies. The title cut also is abrasive as the keys drone and noise just drills you. It has crunch, keys ring out like sirens, and they even get a little doomy for a while.
“Bad Dreamer” is awash in sadness, as piano drips over the opening, but then it ignites, and vicious growls accompany parts of the vocal lines, giving the song an animalistic edge. The singing is downright dour and depressed, as it eventually works into a vexing display of bloodletting and drone that feels like it’s trying to bore a hole right through you. “Rise” is sharp, yet rough, with some of the deepest and most charismatic vocals on the record as noises rise to the surface and keys whir like lasers driving through the Earth’s atmosphere from space. “Loss of Feeling of Loss” has synth that hovers over like a deranged UFO, as you wait to either be attacked or abducted by whatever’s on board. “Run with me,” Beck howls, practically longing for an answer, and the emotions and dark wailing trickles away, letting the murk wash over everyone. Actually, if you let the record keep playing, you’ll run into an ambient hidden track complete with delicate keys and bizarre gusts of air that pretty effectively let you down from the turmoil you just experienced.
They might not be a metal band, per se, but you’re hard pressed to find music darker, less upbeat, yet totally fulfilling. Pinkish Black let you get in touch with the scars inside of you that you try really hard to keep buried under the surface This record will make you uncomfortable, might make you quiver, and certainly won’t let you ignore its darkness. This band is menace to its core, and they only seem to be getting started with their mission of putting to music what a human trainwreck might sound like.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pinkishblackband
To buy the album, go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/index.aspx
For more on the label, go here: http://centurymedia.com/