Reviews Kiss the Gunner Why are We so Dead?

Kiss the Gunner

Why are We so Dead?

I can remember being seven years old and staring bleakly at the television screen while Magic Johnson announced to the world that he was HIV positive. It was late afternoon on a grey fall day and I was sitting on the living room couch with my father, unable to fully grasp either the gravity of the situation or the defeated mannerisms and slouching shoulders of Johnson. “Dad,” I asked, “How do you get HIV?” I remember him sighing stoutly and protractedly turning towards me. Seventeen years later, the verbatim of his reply is still etched in my cerebrum. “Magic Johnson got HIV because he fucked anything that moved for over ten years,” he said. “This is what happens, you get AIDS. It’s not rocket science. Wear a rubber, for Chrissakes.”

It was both a testament my father’s deeply flawed outlook on the conceptual realities of parenting and my informal introduction into the corporeality of decision making. Because, even though I wasn’t quite sure what HIV specifically was, I knew that it was a very bad thing that you got by “fucking anything that moves.” And I knew that I didn’t want it and I’d be best served to wear a rubber. Simply put, I learned that we are all, in this life, judged upon the decisions we choose to make.

But how, you might ask, does this particularly pedestrian musing relate to the task at hand, critiquing Kiss the Gunner’s debut album, Why are We so Dead?

Well, my friends, the answer is a two-pronged one: first, the creation of both this band and this album, in its entirety, was a terrible decision – and while it’s not as permanent as Johnson’s, it is equally as questionable. And secondly, in a completely non-politically correct way of speaking, the musical meanderings of the Kiss the Gunner are akin to the sonic personification of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

The facts, as they say, don’t lie: There are approximately 475,585,950.5 metalcore bands in the continental United States and at least 65% of those metalcore outfits are, in some way, shape, or form, making Christian-related music. To say that this genre – or plague, take your pick – is uninspired is, effectively, to make one of the grossest understatements of all time. It’s like saying that Bo Bice merely has nice hair. Bo Bice has GREAT hair and Christian metalcore is, without a doubt, the most creatively devoid and technically incestuous genre of music in the history of God’s green earth.

The problems with Why are We so Dead? are apparent from the outset. Rhetorical questions posed as album titles, such as the astutely contemplative Why are We so Dead? are almost always destined for failure. Fact is, I didn’t realize that either I or we were dead, let alone so dead. Is it possible to be deader than dead? Dead as shit, perhaps? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the following rhetorically-minded album titles may (or may not) have served this album better: Why are We so Terrible?; What the Hell is this Crap?; and, finally, Would U Dance if I Asked U to Dance?

The music is what you’d expect. Loud, nebulously, albeit repetitively, structured, and full of “siqqqqq” Norma Jean-slash-Every Time I Die styled riffage. Little, if any, attempt is made to be original, pertinent, or worthwhile. But maybe that’s the point. The Christian world has never been, in a word, progressive in terms of its content. Instead, those self-charged with furthering contemporary American Christian ideologies – such as Kiss the Gunner - have merely sought to apply progression to the vehicles with which they use to transmit their message, be it metal-influenced music, urban missionary work, or otherwise. And, make no mistake about it, the genesis of Kiss the Gunner is not focused around tangible musical output, but, rather, on spreading a very specific ideological message in the hippest possible manner.

Vocally, Why are We so Dead? alternates between throaty death metal vocals and an incredibly out of tune brand of “clean” singing. While neither style is entirely compelling, there is an amazingly horrific grunt at exactly the 1:03 mark of “As the City Falls Around Us” that unintentionally sounds like botulism if botulism were to, in fact, have a sound.

And, incredibly, it gets worse. The lyrics are inanely regurgitated Christian rhetoric of the worst kind. On the song “Southern Comfort Ain’t No Comfort,” vocalist Nic Brant muses “my hands travel across my chest, Jesus take my eyes and show me grace.” On the rare occasions that the lyrics aren’t dealing in the realm of Christian mysticism, they are flat out incoherent – best exemplified on track “Drag the Waters” when Brant pointedly states “This man is dead, this man is dead, oh this man, this man. This man is dead. His waters full of bones.”

Unequivocally, this is a poor attempt at music. It’s so contrived and fundamentally anchored to the Christian ideology machine that, in a sense, it’s hard to actually judge Why are We so Dead? within a musical context. And while I’m certainly not prepared to wade into any assessment of the album’s over-arching religious message, I will say that the lyrical content of Why are We so Dead? comes off as little more than new-age Christian propaganda.

In conclusion, however, I should offer something of a caveat to my thoughts as they relate to Why are We so Dead? While, in my mind, this album is a horrible, dysfunctional, and, ultimately, disastrous foray into the world of art, my appraisal of this effort is, intrinsically, mine and mine alone. And, certainly, other critics may disagree with such assessment. Take, for example, Christine Collins of AMP Magazine, who eloquently states, “This band will make it and become huge. You will see.” Maybe so, Christine, maybe so.

1.2 / 10Toby
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1.2 / 10

1.2 / 10

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