In the time before Pinkish Black there was The Great Tyrant. The latest album of Pinkish Black came out a few days back, establishing them as one of the more interesting experimental acts out there, encompassing psychedelia, post-punk and new wave influences, a blackened perspective and even a doom approach. Their first, self-titled album was released through Handmade Birds, but that is not were the origins of the band are found.
Enter The Great Tyrant, the precursor of Pinkish Black. The trio from Denton, Texas released its debut full-length, There's A Man In The House back in 2011, which rose to cult critical acclaim very soon. While the band was in the finishing stages of recording the follow-up full-length, The Trouble With Being Born, bassist Wayne Atkins unexpectedly passed away, and the remaining members founded Pinkish Black. It might have seemed very unlikely at the time that we would get a chance to listen to the sophomore album from The Great Tyrant, but Relapse Records had a different idea. So on the same day the new Pinkish Black album is to be released, The Trouble With Being Born will also, finally, see the light of day.
The Trouble With Being Born is a twisted album, following unconventional means to its devastating end. The elements that are thrown together in this horrific kaleidoscope are able to awaken the darkest side of experimental music. The imposing vocals at the start of “Closing In” already establish that this trip will not be pleasant, and from that point on everything will only get weirder. It is mainly originating from the bizarre approach of the synths at parts, which grants the tracks an infernal carnival-esque quality, apparent in “Closing In” and “Softly, Everyone Dies.” There is something playful about these moments, but at the same time extremely horrific, which is especially obvious in the final track, keeping an upbeat characteristic and at the same time a gloomy tone. And talking about horrific moments, The Great Tyrant has a plethora of those, with “The Apple of Your Eye” being the most startling one as its distorted synths and softly spoken vocals aiding this tremendous ambiance to rise. It is also an extension of the new wave and post-punk influences of The Great Tyrant. The bass is able to grant a mysterious vibe at times, as is the case with “The Apple of Your Eye” and “Take Care,” with melodies, for example in “Softly, Everyone Dies” capturing the essence of post-punk.
The horrific, playful elements are founded in the synths of The Great Tyrant. And what is really cool about the synths here is that the band is not afraid to use unconventional sounds. Those can be used to give the music a towering character, filling up the space, as is the case with the title track, or crafting the soundscapes with their sweeping parts, as happens in “The Apple of Your Eye.” There are moments when the parts become busier, while those can also be used to cause chaos to the music. As the pace quickens in the title track the disorder becomes obvious, as is the case also with the drunken recital in “The Apple of Your Eye.” More extreme parts can exist in the sonic spectrum of The Great Tyrant, with the inclusion of noise being a key element of their music. That might appear as a slight injection of noise, as is the case with “The Apple of Your Eye” leading to the synths sounding like a demented version of themselves. However, it can also be applied as a sonic background, with “Handholder” for example acquiring a dense sonic layer over which the drums, bass and vocals can rest. “I Don't Come Down” features some of the razor-sharp version of The Great Tyrant's noise input, presented in the form of distorted effects, while the combination of an industrial approach and noise in “Take Care” twists the music beyond recognition.
Another interesting aspect of The Great Tyrant's music is their ability to fit elements from different genres in their music. However, those aspects have been put through the band's grinder resulting in the adaptation of these influences, instead of the mere replication. In general, there is a slight industrial quality in terms of the pace and movements that the band employs, however that has a more organic form, instead of the usual mechanical approach of industrial music. In “Closing In” this approach builds anticipation with its start and stop mentality, while in “The Apple of Your Eye” it is able to give a hypnotic tonality to the track. It can also result to a hybrid state, caught between genres, as is the case with the industrialized doom of “Softly, Everyone Dies.”
Even though the band does not exist solely in the metal domain, there are certain leaning towards the heavier genre. “Closing In” definitely has something of the weight of doom, mainly originating from the powerful drums. There are moments where the band does not necessarily dive into heavy riffs and slow pace to reach that result. “The Apple of Your Eye” for instance does not lean towards doom in terms of the guitar sound and drum playing, but the distinct finality of the genre is apparent throughout the track. In the title track it is the guitars that nods towards that direction, with the riffs granting more movement to the parts, while “Recounting Scars” bring a monolithic vision, resulting in dystopian sceneries. And then they might also cover their doom quality with a bit of a blackened dose, as is the case with “Handholder.” Black metal elements are also spread out through The Trouble With Being Born, mostly taking on a complimentary role, as is the case with the melodies of “Take Care,” but there are some instances that see the band accepting and taking on a black metal form. The sudden outbreak of “Softly, Everyone Dies” is such an example, as hatred is being unleashed in its purest form.
Listening to The Trouble With Being Born is a bitter-sweet process. On one hand The Great Tyrant no longer exists, however the legacy of the band lives on with the Pinkish Black, who are releasing one great album after the last. The Trouble With Being Born does shed light into the origins of the Pinkish Black, seeing them at a different time, crafting their sound as The Great Tyrant. It is a shame that it took some time to experience this album, but that does not take away any of its greatness.
8.1 / 10
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