Thursday, 19 February 2015

Corrections House - Writing History in Advance (Live Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/12/2014
Label: War Crime Recordings

‘Writing History in Advance’ CD//DD track listing:

1). Side A (16:29)
2). Side B (21:08)
3). Side C (20:25)
4). Side D (15:54)


'Corrections House come the closest underground metal has to offer in terms of a genuinely exciting super group line-up. No doubt Scott Kelly (Neurosis, The Road Home), Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Sanford Parker (Minsk) don't see themselves that way. Labelling yourself a super group must require ego and pretention far beyond the possession of artists of this calibre, and the remarkably cohesive output of music here bears none of the hallmarks of creative arrogance. Indeed the artists' decision to implement a sort of uniform and ubiquitous image in all their material is testament to this - the product stands for itself, its creators simply being vessels through which it comes to be.

'Writing History in Advance' is a live recording of Corrections House performing in Los Angeles, and is remarkably good quality. The record stands as proof of the band's ability thanks to a well thought out recording system and mostly great live sound. It also stands as a sad reminder of the difficulties underground artists face as the rare break in the music is met with subdued applause from what sounds like a crowd numbering only in the dozens.

The set itself starts off with a full four and a half minutes of garbled maniacal mumblings over gentle synth drones before the band's characteristic mechanical percussion inserts itself with a sledgehammer blow of emotionless force.

A fuzzed slab of guitar dooms its way in after a few measures and vocals, full of delay and grit, rant their way through the mix. This is Corrections House, a strange exercise in how much four hugely talented underground musicians can adapt to create a cohesive noise that both fails to be the sum of its parts yet transcends expectations imposed by the members' main projects.

Indeed the music feels like it effortlessly escapes the obvious grasps of listeners wishing to identify it as being one part Neurosis, one part Eyehategod etc. Around two thirds of the way through the set the electronic percussive battery dies away, giving room for plaintive guitar and spoken word verses that drip with melancholy, before the horror resumes in full force.

Thematically, Corrections House utilise dystopian imagery and lyrics that fits the industrial sound that lies at the heart of their material. More '1984' than 'The Handmaid's Tale', the world of Corrections House is mechanised and brutal, macrocosmic rather than introspective. Initially a turn off for me, this image seemed lacking in the obtuse mystique I had come to expect from the band members. In the context of this project, however, it fits like a glove.

Around half an hour in Mike IX sincerely thanks the paltry audience for actually applauding and attending something 'a little different'. I had the privilege of seeing Corrections House at Roadburn Festival 2014 and can attest to the passion the band play with. These are men approaching middle age, having played extreme music for decades, and all still brimming with creativity and love for the fantastic chaos they create. They are behind such incredible albums as 'The Ritual Fires of Abandonment' and 'Samsara', and frankly seeing them together onstage struck me as deserving of reverence.

Outside of Youth Code or Author & Punishment, I can think of little industrial metal that gets attention from the respectable side of the extreme music press. Mike IX sums up the experience of Corrections House well, when he ends the set by again thanking the audience, saying, 'Thanks for being open minded and checking out something different, y'know. Cos some people don't fucking get it, they don't know what to do. They get all scared and weirded out..'. And he's right, most people will reject the abrasive and aurally obscene, unable to find the beauty in the horror. Poor bastards.'

Words by: Jake Mazlum

You can pick up the DD here and CD here

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