Ahh, religion. Bane of metal’s existence, religion has been the genre’s punching bag since its dawn. Many songs wove stories of people killing, raping, and pillaging for God, with some of their own followers (past or current) calling them out as well. It’s all with good reason, of course; you do good deeds just for the sake of helping someone or something out, not to look good in the eyes of others. Don’t even get me started on the excessive hoarding of expensive gifts or getting away with dubious activities in the name of God. That’s where international1 noise outfit, Their Throats Are Open Tombs, comes in with their second full-length helping of electronic grindcore, Of Psalms and Snakes.
First off, I want to commend the members of Their Throats Are Open Tombs2 for attacking the hypocrisy associated with the followers of different religions with sheer intensity. There’s no denying the sincerity put forth, with each song featuring a passionate calling-out against the crimes, the above-the-law attitudes, and moral and altruistic narcissism that goes hand-in-hand with it. The amount of venom spat forth could fill test tubes for days, and for that, they have my respect…
…but this is dreadful. When “Nachsinnen” first opened up, I thought there was something seriously wrong with my headset until the song finally balances itself on both sides in the weirdest of intervals, with a crisp piano cutting through some sound effects. Immediate follow-up “Lights! Camera! Action!” once again questions my headset’s integrity until I realize that the album is mixed this quietly, but upon turning up the volume, I’m met with the quietest drums I have ever heard, guitars which are just a blur of noise, and one of the vocalists screaming “Guilty, guilty, I AM GUILTY (GUILTY! GUILTY!)” out of time with the rest of the “band.” Elsewhere, “Forgotten Man” is what it would sound like if someone asked me to drum for them when I was all of six years old, with cymbals sounding like pots and pans being dropped en masse while one dude continuously howls “FORGOTTEN MAAAAAAAAN!!!” like a zealot. The only time I could discern any semblance of structure or effective time-keeping is on “Statement of Intent,” where everyone is kinda, sorta playing in time with each other.
While the sloppy performances are a giant part of the album’s failure, the shoddy production douses it with gasoline, and sets the whole thing ablaze. Guitars are muffled (save for the sloppy guitar melody on “Statement of Intent”), drums are buried save for cymbals being smashed everywhere, and even the electronic bits suffer due to compression and low volume. Only the keyboards shine on here, especially with a bright-sounding piano cutting through the mire. In fact, the only reason this didn’t get a 0.53 was due to the incredible atmosphere conjured on “Nacsinnen” and the last five minutes of closing word-salad “Political Expediancy -or- It Was All Just Power, Wasn’t It (With The Steps To The Power Dance Included).” Otherwise, it’s a quiet Tetragrammacide or a serious Enbilulugugal.
I’m all for passionate music that calls out the elite, the morally narcissistic, and the holier-than-thou with nihilistic glee. But not if it’s unlistenable, and Of Psalms and Snakes takes unlistenability to ridiculous lows. I can get behind the intent, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Serious noisemongers have other avenues to explore elsewhere.