Wednesday, 26 April 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Cowardice - "Without Condolence"

By: Stephen Murray

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/12/2016
Label: Independent


the sound is relatable and as tender as a fingernail wrenched from its bed. It drifts between aching sadness and violent bouts of self-disgust. This stratum of emotional, chemical and physical self-destruction is the calling card of genuine, heartfelt sludge, and “Without Condolence” is definite rap on the door.


“Without Condolence” CS//CD//DD track listing:

1). No Sovereignty
2). The Tearing Down
3). Synthetic Edens in a Crippled Will
4). I Yield My Prayers
5). Eroding Ethos
6). Lower Tiers of Life

The Review:

I missed the release of “Without Condolence” at the end of last year. Cowardice is not a name I have seen about too much, either, but it should be. Somewhere between the despairing chug of Arizona’s gone-but-not-forgotten Wellington and the searing angst of His Hero Is Gone, this debut is the collective effort of some New Jersey scene regulars. It was recorded last summer and it moves like a soot crusted diesel-electric freight train leaking oil and coughing a dark brown carcinogenic fume.

The drumming is a thing of beauty. It slinks and slouches; explodes, shimmers and tinkles. The vocals have that clawing desperation that perfectly exploits the emotional weight of the music which sways between melancholic, gritty, picked melodies and fully blown out chords as evil as pitch-shifted black metal. The whole tone of the album is so well judged that the acoustic number sandwiched in the centre doesn’t feel like a break from it but rather it attacks the target from a fresh vantage.

The overall recording reminds me of those classic 90s underground bands and I absolutely adore it. It sounds like it was taped off a friend’s record player and has a scratchy quality like the back of your throat right before a heavy cold. This record is as grimy as it gets, but in the moments when the guitar is cleaner, peeling back the layers to reveal the bedrock of reverb, guitar buzz and snare rattle, I get an intoxicating whiff of a becalmed Dystopia, which is a perfect invocation for any sludge band.

This isn’t the NOLA sludge sound we rightly love. This apple falls on the other side of the tree. The melodies are not so indebted to delta blues. Nor would I say they are forbidding in the way you would expect doom to be. Instead the sound is relatable and as tender as a fingernail wrenched from its bed. It drifts between aching sadness and violent bouts of self-disgust. This stratum of emotional, chemical and physical self-destruction is the calling card of genuine, heartfelt sludge, and “Without Condolence” is definite rap on the door.

“Without Condolence” is available on all formats here



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

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