One of the worst feelings you can get as a reviewer is when you listen to an album and you feel like you just don’t understand it. For various reasons, you hear the music, and can’t make head nor tail of it. Now depending on why this is determines a lot about how you review it. If you simply don’t have enough experience with the genre of the music, then you’re kinda shit out of luck, but the good reviewers turn that into some sort of talking point and turn in a somewhat acceptable review. Or they just don’t review it, that’s the safe bet. If it’s because your mood at the time just didn’t let you intake the album properly, then depending on the time of day, you have this awkward thought process of whether or not to do other shit until your mind is clear, or maybe just do the review tomorrow, hoping for better results. I find personally that after around 9pm, I just can’t review shit, my writing brain just doesn’t work properly at that time. Eventually however, you get the job done, and this is the most common reason why I have this feeling.
The third reason I have discovered however, that’s the worst/best reason of all, and that’s what I find with Zealotry’s The Last Witness. Sometimes, you DO get the album, but you get the fact that it’s just a confused mess of a work that has no idea what the fuck it even wants to be. See I always go into a review trying to find the angle of the album. Like any work of art, music almost always has an angle to it, a purpose, a goal, an atmosphere, basically a reason for why the artists did what they did. That angle could be anything, including not having an angle (not even ironic artists are safe from irony). With Last Witness however, I can’t figure out that angle. I have no idea what this album is trying to do or why it’s doing it, no matter how hard I try. And for the sake of self confidence and attempting to assume I’m not retarded, I’ve determined it’s because the band didn’t know itself.
This album sounds like every death metal album ever made was combined into one album, with the influence of every death metal sub genre possible. And I don’t mean that in the way that this is an eclectic album full of interesting details, I mean it in the way where you combine every color in the rainbow and it turns out brown. Zealotry’s work is vaguely technical, vaguely melodic, vaguely cavernous, vaguely somber, vaguely avant-garde, vaguely brootal, vaguely vague. It’s a horseshit combination of everything that gets mixed together to create absolutely fucking nothing. Progeny Omega is the only track on here that has some sort of staying power simply because they happen to amp up the technical and melodic aspects slightly. I mean it’s not really amazing, and it still leaves you with that completely unsatisfied feeling like you just wasted 9 minutes trying to figure out the philosophical meaning of your 3rd grade little sister’s art scribbles, but at least it’s slightly less forgettable than the rest of the album. All in all, this album sounds like a vague attempt to be mildly artistic death metal, but comes out mildly so many fucking things that we lose the ability to use adjectives and just come up with mild.
And then the final track hits and completely invalidates every single word I’ve said thus far. The final track, Silence, is by far the best track on the album, for the worst reason possible. Up until now, the entire fault with The Last Witnesss was it’s complete lack of focus and direction. So naturally, with the final track, which is neither the title track nor the longest track on the album, this band is going to just say fuck that and do exactly the opposite of what I was complaining about. Silence starts off with this minute long acoustic guitar passage, which in my mind further proved my point. I saw that as them saying “ok, what haven’t we added to this fuckfest yet? Acoustic guitars? Ok cool, let’s do that.”. I felt a bit smug and validated that this floundering band was desperately trying to tug at my heart strings because they had nothing left. How feeble their attempts to make a man so jaded, so cool, so very popular on the internet as me feel emotions? Me? Haha, good luck kid, the only emotions I feel are nihilism and REALITY, because I’m smart, my parents tell me I’m smart and I got a B+ in my English class, don’t tell ME how to feel!?!??!
But then of course, like any brooding aspiring internet superstar, I get slapped in the face with my own dose of realism. It started slowly at first. This track actually had a very apparent central riff, and just like Progeny Omega they amped up the technicality and melody, this time just a half notch more. This was the first tack I could say I was really enjoying on the record, though the bar wasn’t set to high by the others. And just when I was settling on a score for this thing, BAM! Cellos. Cellos what? Cellos when? Cellos WHY?! Just fucking cellos, out of absolutely fucking nowhere. It’s like the band just called up Yo-Yo Ma and was like “hey, we’ll pay you 500 bucks to do a guest verse on our new album, trust me it’s gonna be fire”. One of the little known perks to reviewing albums is when you get those moments where you actually yell “WHAT THE FUCK?” and then after a few seconds of staring at your screen with your jaw agape, you start laughing. This was another one of those moments. At first I laughed because I was mocking the music. This is ridiculous and stupid, why would you include this shit, it makes no fucking sense in context with the rest of the album. And then it hit me, no it doesn’t make sense in context of the album, but it makes perfect sense in context of the song.
And here’s where all my rambling comes together. Silence is the best track on the album for the worst reason possible because in being the best track on the album, it just further highlights how absolutely shitty the rest of the tracks are. Silence is perfectly competent as a somewhat technical, somewhat symphonic, somber death metal track. An entire album of that would be totally rad in my opinion, hell even welcomed. But in context with the rest of the album, the track sounds utterly fucking ridiculous and out of place, because the rest of the tracks are unfocused garbage bins that run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off for a few minutes before falling to the ground dead, only to be rezzed by some sadistic necromancer seven more times, just to repeat the process all over again.
And the worst part about all of this is that I can’t shit on this nearly as much as I want to. Not for any logical reason I could think of, just because every time I type that 4, or 3, or 2 (man I want to give a 2 right now so bad), some little angel on my shoulder quietly tells me to kill myself. Even as I write this I’m contemplating whether to tell that creep to fuck off.
Actually, I think this is just the time to make head or tail of this album. I’m actually gonna flip a coin, heads 5, tails 2.
Tails it is
Fuck you voice in my head, you don’t even have an internet girlfriend.