Isolation – Closing a Circle

Posted on August 14, 2011




Alright, I’m out of guesses and these guys are out of hints. What the hell is this? I’m all for bass in my black metal. Drudkh’s last few albums are some of my favorite works from the Ukranian recluses, and Nick McMaster’s increasing role in Krallice is to the act’s benefit. I even dig what the French are doing with the genre, all wide-eyed nostalgia and washes of shoegazing shimmer. But Isolation don’t play black metal, despite what the press gobbledygook for Closing a Circle may claim, so Andre Jones’ prominent bendy-slidey shenanigans amount to nothing more than a few “Hey, that’s kind of cool” moments. Which leads me back to my original question, now somewhat of an amended demand: What is this supposed to be?

Well, there’s some spoken word interspersed in random intervals, y’know, to make then seem all deep and whatnot. (By the way, Slint, the royalty check should be in the mail.) It’s piss-boring, but somehow more affecting than when Johannes Schmid actually “sings.” Remember when Aaron Turner began flexing his clean vocals on Isis’ (R.I.P.) final records and everyone was railing him for a lack of emotion? Yeah, dude sounds like Bruce fucking Dickinson compared to this guy. He practically falls asleep at the mic on “The Wasteland,” his droning monotone trailing off. Maybe the scenery is just too mundane for him. Unfortunately for us, so is the music. Every single track.

And it’s not even a question of production, because the album’s atmosphere and mix are quite close to one of my favorite releases of last year, Woe’s Quietly, Undramatically. The drums on that record! How alive and vibrant they were, unencumbered by triggers or Pro Tools, aided along by a monstrous performance from a guy who’s not even in the band anymore. Here, Albert Röhl manages to squander a perfect opportunity to live on the edge, like during “One Day”’s pseudo-jazz. Dude, play around! Why are you hammering on the cymbals like some ham fisted post-rock goon? It just makes me hate this even more, because the kit sounds excellent, super dry, but the dude behind it is just all wrong. The opportunity for true pathos is missed just about everywhere, which is too bad, because I think they were going for the opposite. Even the raspy yelps on “Never Enough” sound anything but impassioned. And then more of those nasally cleans pull us headlong into Snoozeville, which begs one final question: Where’s a pillow?

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