I admit it, I can be a sadistic reviewer. Finding a truly, deeply terrible album gives me a certain perverse glee at the prospect of creatively tearing the malformed afterbirth to ribbons. The feeling is generally strong enough to overpower the dry heaves and stomach-clenching nausea of actually listening to it. But I have found my Waterloo. Despite the seemingly bottomless barrel of fish to shoot, and with my proverbial pen charged like an orbital death cannon, The Year Zero Blueprint is such an infinitely dense singularity of awful, the pain of listening to it outstrips my sadistic joy of writing about it, something not even the historically poor Blind Seer could manage. At least this cover is not as much of a punishment to look at as that ReBoot ripoff, and that is it as far as positivity goes today.
So what did Until The Sky Dies do that got yours truly in such a tizzy? The opening track “I” (no titles, only Roman numerals now) is quick to lead you into the abyss. A halting riff accompanied by what sounds like synthesized bagpipes assaults the ears almost instantly. The curious fade-in on each cycle of the riff projects the distinct aura of “we looped this in the studio,” while the abysmal timing adds “and we couldn’t even get that right.” When the growls come in, they are so powerless and breathy I could disperse them with a fan. It’s like a constipated ghost giving up on his ability to ever poop again. The clean vocals that follow play his unaffected but commiserating spirit friend, a sad, whiny murmur that projected a sense of mystery and majesty in life, but in death it has forgotten how.
Although each track regurgitates its material long past its best-before date, there are as many ways to be unforgivably awful as there are songs. “VI” mixes uncertain country twang, stomach-turning floaty synths, half-whispered edgy vocals that end-ah every sentence-ah with a sigh-ah, and what sounds like an amateur Eddie Vedder impersonator trying too hard. “IV” beats you over the head and stabs you in the ears with what’s either poorly synthesized clarinets or the most maltreated guitars this side of The Who’s destructive antics. The closer contains the worst strained vocals and more terrible timing than a Holocaust joke at a bar mitzvah. And after a curiously out-of-place 8-bit intro, “II” reveals itself an 8-minute monotone dirge that just makes me want to eat a cyanide sandwich.
The production is another hellscape where taste and sanity go to die. The mix is utterly inconsistent, regularly shoving elements too far backward or forward, even between clean and unclean vocals. This terrible mix causes most of the damage to the inner ear, like the screeching kazoo in “IV” or the abrasive warble of the guitars on “V” and “VII.” The acoustics and recording quality both say “World War II bunker,” and half the songs clip in a migraine-inducing manner. Sibilances are like attack whistles for these bouts of clipping, but tracks like the closer and “V” manage well enough on their own. The wide range of DR scores across the album further underline the inconsolable inconsistency, which further impresses how every single element was pasted together and thrown haphazardly into a production blender.
I’ve never heard an album without a single redeeming feature. Blind Seer had one decent chorus, but they invoked my ire by butchering Sir David Bowie. The Year Zero Blueprint has no redeeming feature. Every single element is among the very worst I’ve ever laid ears on. I’d rather sit through a 24 hour Geordie Shore marathon while blasting P. Diddy at full volume all the way through than sit for another spin of The Big Fat Zero Blueprint. And despite the laundry list of things wrong with this album, despite the monumental shitstain this album spread on the face of metal and music in general, despite the absolutely punishing, torturous experience of sitting through this ugly, foul, horribly composed, dismally played, dreadfully produced piece of decaying garbage… a label attached its name to it. So if you’ll excuse me, when I finally stop vomiting, I’ll need to either phone the police because some label executive’s family is being held hostage, or I’ll just need to give up hope in all of humanity and start building a real orbital death cannon. Fuck. This. Album.