Nightmarish figures american provide soundtrack to hell on debut album ‘Coping With Loss’

AmericanDo you watch television or follow the news even a little bit? If so, are you pretty sick by now? The worst of humanity seems to have reared its ugly head the past few weeks, not only in America, but around the world as people fight for their freedom and others battle against pestilence.

An ugly world needs an ugly soundtrack, one that lines up musically and philosophically with the crumbling societal and political blocks. It’s not even on purpose that we pick a band named american (lowercase by design) to resemble all of that strife and human horror going on in the world, but it fits. The mysterious duo’s debut full-length record “Coping With Loss” (out on cassette and digitial formats) is about as terrifying, noise drenched, chaotic, and outright violent as one is bound to need to endure these times. Settle yourself inside these seven tracks, and you will be identifying with madness and fury that people protect themselves inside proverbial cocoons to avoid. But you can’t turn away from this so easily. It’s bound to make your eyebrows furl, and if you’re a less than ambitious listener, this assault of black noise and frazzled nerves probably will cause you to reject outright. It’s OK. Not everyone is strong enough to look the demon in the eye.

There is not much known about these two other than they hail from Virginia and that the lineup consists of Jim Gullickson on vocals and drums and Mike Bamford on vocals, guitar, and bass. There are no live actions, there are no promo shots, and come to think of it, with all of this shadowy activity, I’m surprised they have embraced having any publicity at all. Their sound is a crumbling, sooty mix of noise, black metal, sludge, hardcore, and doom, and their music is chest-bursting heavy, with their overall philosophy seemingly being that of hatred, destruction, and annihilation via sound. It’s heavy, all-out psychological warfare going on, and the weak of heart are bound to end up balled up in a corner weeping from fear.

“Ritual Suicide” makes its presence known early, and really, you don’t have to venture much further than the song title to know what’s up. A driving tempo, harsh black metal-style howls, sludgy riffs, and layers of pure infamy make up this thing that delivers severe body blows. “Descendants” opens with a computer-generated voice that reminds of Pig Destroyer’s eerie “Jennifer,” and then it’s on to another eruption that meets up with strong melodies that completely disarm. The vocals are harsh shrieks, and a curtain of absolute darkness is dragged over this abrasive bastard. “Retinere” begins like it’s going down a murky doom path, but it’s something of a red herring as the band turns toward a manic fury, sweltering, sludgy chaos, and warped sense of reality. “Lamb to Slaughter” is a weird one, with dark, buzzing leads and a tempo that hulks rather than decimates. Screams and shrieks sound like they’re being delivered by a demented individual (and who’s to say they aren’t?), and the end of the track boils and sizzles.

“Pulse Beating Slowly” begins with static spitting everywhere, strange samples that are frightening, eerie and weird cries, and a terrifying horrorscape from which it’s impossible to turn your head. “Solace in the Silence” provides anything but that, with furious blasts meeting up with washed out black metal strains and howled vocals. The melodies only cement the strangeness, and the final moments are imbedded with destructive noises. Closer “Coping With the Loss and Insurmountable Guilt of Existing” tells you all you need to know from its name, just like the record opener, and with 17:54 with which to work, these guys have plenty of room to spread their bleeding tentacles. The track is packed with static, pastoral-style chants, noise chirps, and dissonant melodies that sound purposely disengaged. Static pulses and electric zaps blister your senses, while a spacey computer voice settles in to chill you even further. The final moments of relentless repetition act like blows to the head over and over, doing the best they can to knock you out and put you out of your misery.

The world’s a goddamned horror. Get used to it. People are getting worse, so this isn’t getting any better. In a few years, you’ll be begging for a band like american to come along and soothe you with absolute audio hell so that something can sound more damaged and deranged than what’s going on in your consciousness. “Coping With Loss” is that record, and it’s here for you now. It’ll lull you into the recesses of nightmares and let you see the worst for what it really is.

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