Saturday, January 9, 2010


Sometimes i wish Mark Kozelek would just make a black metal record. His work with Red House Painters and his solo stuff seem to be the template for a lot of depressive/suicidal black metal these days and there's no denying his influence over Through the Pain's debut album. I first ran across this band last year via an extremely limited split they did with Trist (50 copies, of which i possess one)-i had to write to the guy from Through the Pain to get the disc as well as pay an exorbitant shipping fee (cost more than the record!) but i was more than willing to do so, as Trist only shares wax with quality like-minded projects. A year or so later and Through the Pain's 4 song album is out via the mighty Total Holocaust and it's pretty much what i would have expected. Aside from Kozelek the other major influence at work here would be Hypothermia, much more recognizable and looming given that this is a BM record. This is simplistic, repetitive material, recorded poorly, played amateurishly, and begging the question of whether or not it can be taken as a serious statement. The derivations bothered me throughout the first song but as the record progressed, becoming evermore loping and droning and melodic across its four pieces, i came to appreciate the album for its own qualities of melancholy examination. This isn't wrist-slitting music but the sound of frustration, of not understanding. There is a burgeoning counter movement within depressive BM referred to (perhaps jokingly) as "happy" black metal, named after the the brightness and major key modality of the songs. Through the Pain could easily fit under this moniker and this is where i see the Kozelek influence, but you could just as well term it shoegaze BM and be okay. All this genre cross-pollinization just confuses the issue, though, and i think it's used more as a conveyance of sound than an actual musical philosophy. Alcest pretty much ripped a hole in black metal that hasn't been sewn up yet and no one wants to think that the genre can stretch so far and encompass so much without losing identity and meaning. In this regard Through the Pain are treading fairly virgin ground and doing so bravely. These four tracks are pretty far removed from their contribution to the "Black Veils" split-the repetitive elements remain but the sound has been reworked and a new take on depression is being revealed. This isn't song-oriented in the way i feel Lifelover is (nor is it as accomplished) but it's stark and honest. The best thing Through the Pain could do is record their albums better, because these songs deserve more than the tinny, claustrophobic production granted them here. Maybe that's part of the idea, but i'd rather hear all that guitar overblown and piercing, groveling in horror and cracking apart under the weight of its own pop-tinged melodocism.

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