This album rustles my jimmies. I’m not a big fan of black metal specifically, but I am a big fan of desolate and disturbing music in the general sense, which is why Indian’s black-doom-noise horror From All Purity hit me with near-tectonic force earlier this year. Despite what AMG himself will tell you, black metal and noise make excellent bedfellows, as the aforementioned Chicago doom-merchants and other acts like Gnaw Their Tongues will show. Naturally, american’s debut, Coping With Loss, billed as black metal noise, caught my eye. Could it be that 2014 is about to yield yet another masterpiece of the humbly horrific genre? My hopes were high, my jimmies aligned.
For a little while, it seems possible. “Ritual Suicide” grasps at solemnity before barreling forward at an axis-annihilating pace. At the halfway mark, its stride collapses, guitars splintering across a harshly ringing background. The bass emerges from the fray, pulling the rest of the band up with its plodding walk into a huge, Indian-esque doom riff. More good comes from “Decedents”, which follows the same basic form, but breaks backs before its later doomy section with a devastating single blow from the band in concert. It’s just the right time for you to slam your head on your desk after the song’s truly execrable intro, which features a prayer for death from Microsoft Sam.
If your band uses computer-generated speech for a spoken word section, fuck you. You are the apotheosis of uncreative pabstcore shitfuckery and I won’t stand for it. Without its intro, “Decedents” would be getting plenty of repetition around my neck of the woods, but as it stands it’s an ultimate pairing of preeminence and putrid pretense. To the lesser extent, that aesthetic describes the album. While the first half is uniformly intense, if not extremely inventive, the second half – beginning with “Pulse Beating Slowly” begins to tread too far from the band’s strengths.
While “Solace in the Silence” is an appropriate companion, if not exactly an equal, to the first four songs, featuring a somber and chilling guitar outro, “Pulse Beating Slowly” and “Coping With Loss And The Insurmountable Guilt Of Existing” are filler of the purest variety. The latter mouthful is the most egregious waste of time, taking up nearly half the length of the album and showing nothing for it. While its noise/field recording/ambient adventures may charm some, its use of pseudo-Stephen Hawking decisively dissolves any doubts on its degeneracy. Why the band has chosen to slip this shit into an otherwise shipshape album is unknown to me, but it happened and I’m peeved about it.
The duplicity of this album is what makes it really annoying. For every step in the right direction, there’s another one going the wrong way, and what’s worse is that the independent paths the album chooses to go down seem inseparable. The fact that the bad doesn’t seem entirely out of place is frustrating because it makes the good riffs, songs and noise experiments seem so closely allied with the ineffective ones. If american cut out half of this album, it would make a very cool EP with equal amounts of interesting ideas and kvlt credibility, but the inclusion of abhorrent clichés and ponderous ambient tracks that provide neither needed rest nor genuine intrigue leave a bad taste in the mouth. Coping With Loss is not an absolute failure, but it’s by no means the success that it easily could have been – and thus, the jimmies have been afflicted.