Tuesday, 11 February 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Sightless Pit, "Grave of a Dog"

By: Josh McIntyre

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/02/2020
Label: Thrill Jockey

“Grave of a Dog” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Kingscorpse
2. Immersion Dispersal
3. The Ocean Of Mercy
4. Violent Rain
5. Drunk On Marrow
6. Miles Of Chain
7. Whom The Devil Long Sought To Strangle
8. Love is Dead, All Love Is Dead

The Review:

This is not a metal album. That does not, however, make it any less heavy or nasty sounding. Sightless Pit consists of Lee Buford (The Body), Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota), and Dylan Walker (Full of Hell) and it is a deep exploration of the more electronic elements of each project’s respective sound. All three artists have been at the forefront of underground heavy music for years now and I would argue that this success has been aided by this shared interest in adding sampled effects, drum machine beats, and other sounds that really sets them apart from other sludge, grindcore, and noise musicians. There’s also the fact that these artists already have a bond as they have consistently toured together and collaborated. “Grave of a Dog” is the result of a strong chemistry between three artists leaning on each other to discover exciting possibilities with the music that they create. 

So the existence of Sightless Pit comes as no surprise to fans. Once the first song dropped on the public (“Kingscorpse”) I saw comparisons to the previous Full of Hell/The Body albums being made online, oftentimes with a sense of disappointment that new ideas weren’t apparent. Thankfully, these predictions are very wrong. One only needs to proceed to track two to see that this is a unique record. Every song has its own character, by far more so than most albums. Drum loops range from hip-hop grooves to militaristic and harsh. Layers of piano, synth, and distortion guide the album and give songs their melodic purpose. Dylan and Kristin both perform vocals throughout, adding their own timbres to already complex layers of sound. One of the most interesting parts is when autotune is added to Kristin’s melismatic singing in “Violent Rain”, somehow making it sound even more emotional in a fashion that recalls Kanye West’s outro in “Runaway”.

As mentioned, all of these elements have been present in each members’ primary project to a degree but it’s the focus on them here that makes “Grave of a Dog” such a fascinating record. I can’t help but compare it to a zombified Portishead or Burial. They’ve been murdered, dug into the ground, and resurrected as horrifying and scarred bastards. This isn’t just in the crackled sounds, its emotion reeks of mournfulness and dread. Even the screams have a strong sense of sadness, if not desperation, in them. There isn’t a single sign of light to be seen and sometimes it’s raining. It’s truly cinematic. It feels like a film where a zombie is brought back to enact vengeance on its killer but ends up still feeling empty in a very human way. The titles certainly help to bring this to mind. 

My guess is that the three were chatting one day and simply decided to make a record between them as more of a fun thing to do rather than to make some flashy supergroup display. Whatever the case may be, “Grave of a Dog” is a phenomenal and thought-provoking project. It can easily compete with the various albums released between the trio’s other works. The difference is that there are no riffs here.

Similarities are more abound to Tim Hecker’s Virgins” and Portishead’sThird” than anything metal or punk. I adore it all the more because of this.

“Grave of a Dog” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp