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venerdì 29 novembre 2013

Theologian - Some Things Have to be Endured

#FOR FANS OF: Black Ambient Drone, Sunn o)))
Upon hearing the opening strains of the first track, "Black Cavern Myopia", the initial impression I formed of Theologian was to describe it as industrial drone metal. However, after repeated listenings to 'Some Things Have to Be Endured' in its entirety, I later came to the conclusion that a more accurate description of the genre for this music might actually be ambient-atmospheric drone rock. The first two plays were on my car stereo driving to and from work (a roughly 40-minute drive) during which I realized that the subdued mix on this recording was probably better appreciated at higher volumes on a high-end system or through headphones. At that point, I raised it from background music volume to a more immersive level, at which point I became aware of the subtleties of the mix. I pulled out and re-listened to some old Sunn o))) and Earth tunes as comparison points, and have concluded that although this release shares the extremely slow tempos and drop bass pedal tones with those two groups on some tracks, it seems to include more progressive and classical elements in its soundscapes. I would suggest that the eight tracks on this release are better regarded as movements in an overall symphony than as individual songs. The imagery of the included e-booklet would suggest black metal, but when this reviewer thinks of black-metal drone, Anaal Nathrakh’s 'Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here' is what immediately comes to mind. The lyrics are evocative (as printed in the included e-booklet) but the operatic female vocals are buried in the mix, and in some cases, are also awash in reverb and delay. The closing track, "Welcome to the Golden Age of Beggars", includes the lyric: “The Junkie / That Brings Guilt/ In a Terrifying Darkness / Worship the Sensation / That No Longer Exists / Obsessed With his Obsession / Swallow the Filth / Wanting the Touch / Despising Him / For the Agony is Deep and Heavy”, which carries great emotional weight (but unfortunately, isn’t readily perceptible in the mix). This lyric may possibly explain the cover image (identified as “Mother Love”) of a nude woman covered bodily by a translucent veil; with both breasts bared and her right breast partially penetrated by quills. 'Some Things Have to be Endured' is not a soundtrack for cruising or head banging to, but may be better suited for listening to during reflection or meditation. It is unfortunate that some very profound lyrics are lost in a very dense mix. The best, deepest appreciation of this work may likely result from dedicated and focused repeated listenings: as this is clearly not a work for the casual listener. (Bob Szekely)