Reviews Yaphet Kotto/This Machine Kills/Envy Split

Yaphet Kotto/This Machine Kills/Envy

Split

Whenever I listen to the type of record that Yaphet Kotto or Envy would make, I always play the TV at full volume to supplement the chaos. Sometimes I'll change it to something like an MTV awards show or a shitty sitcom to add my own sort of psuedo-ironic soundtrack. It works even better in this case, because the record itself is a major contrast between bands. That's not to say every part of this record is as solid as the rest, in fact, even if Envy wasn't one of my favorite "hardcore" bands (call them whatever the fuck you want, but for simplicity's sake, in this interview, Envy are a hardcore band), I would still consider their part of the split to easily be the best one on the record.

I've always liked the way Yaphet Kotto kind of toned down the vocals so it would blend in with the instruments. Even though they have much better production than they normally do on their records, the vocals are still recorded with the same priority. With their kind of music, where the vocals and instruments weave together constantly, this sort of vocal blending works very well.

That isn't to say it will work very well with any band. This Machine Kills side strikes me as having a more traditional metalcore sound. Hell, the opening and closing riffs of "Carpet of Gold/Carpet of Bombs," sounds like something right out of an Alice in Chains song. The vocals on this side are tuned down as well, but the instruments kind of play independently from each other, so this type of production doesn't work as well. There's lots of chugga chuggas, dramatic climactic endings, and cookie-cutter cookie monster vocals to be had, but unfortunately it renders This Machine Kills's contributions to this record as the weakest.

Maybe their part is intentionally bland, though, because Envy's songs come out of nowhere and blow even Yaphet Kotto's songs right out of the fucking water. Coming in strong with the epic "A Far-Off Reason"'s a soft melody that sounds like something out of an Appleseed Cast record, Envy comes out like a roller coaster, utilizing to the fullest a basic musical concept that many "hardcore" bands like to ignore: dynamics. Aside from sort of slowing it down for a bridge or breakdown, too many "hardcore" bands just steam right through a song without shocking or surprising the listener; they serve more as a musical freight train than a roller coaster. That's why I love Envy so much...they aren't especially talented "hardcore" musicians, but they still use their best musical elements: dynamics, emotion, and energy, and they use them very effectively. It doesn't matter that they're singing in a different language; because anybody can understand those pained howls and somber whispers.

So at the end of the record, all three bands, apparently, come together to create an untitled collaboration song. It starts off with a slowly building, lilting, floating melody, followed by a collage of whispers from what I can only assume are the singers from each band. Then the guitars build up a little more, with no screams anywhere in sight. It's a plateau of a song. You think that with the extremely long intro, with a band like Envy in charge at least a little of where the song is going, that they will shock and move you, but it's just a bunch of pounding on guitars, and unintelligible howling and screaming, with melodic "wey oh wey oh"s sparkled along the side. Then it just fades back into nothing, and you're thoroughly disappointed for wasting 10 minutes and 29 seconds of your life on this song. It could have been something great, but it's really just an awkward moment that can be easily skipped because it's at the end of a record. It's not that the song is bad, it's just that it's too mediocre to warrant more than a couple listens.

So after Envy's incredible "An Adventure of Silence and Purpose" finishes off, it's best to maybe let the end go by once, and from then on, just flip over the record like it doesn't exist. Purchasing this is definitely worth it if only for new Envy and Yaphet Kotto tracks.

6.0 / 10Jeff
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Sonzai

2004

6.0 / 10

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