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I’m a huge Sigh fanboy. I love everything the band has produced, and find they’ve pretty much only been getting better over time. So while I was waiting for Scenes From Hell to stop getting delayed in production and, you know, get released, I started to check out some of the other bands Mirai Kawashima has been involved with, especially ones for which he laid down his keyboardic fury. I noticed it was one of Killjoy’s bands, and since he did some guest vocals for Sigh (Silver Universe on Gallows Gallery) and wrote some lyrics for them (In the Mind of a Lunatic on Scenario IV), I figured I might as well give it a shot. Knowing nothing about what the band sounded like, I bought this album for something like a dollar off ebay.
Well, just as Killjoy did guestwork for Mirai’s band, it looks like Mirai’s involvement in Killjoy’s project is likewise limited to a guest role. You’ll hear him twiddling some synthesizers on Supercluster, but that’s about it. Or at least, I think that’s him, since the album doesn’t name anyone for any credit. Long story short, though, this is not Sigh 2.0. Eh, it’s to be expected, considering this was Killjoy’s project all along and not Mirai’s. That’s not the problem here, though.
The problem is the horrible, HORRIBLE writing. From the guy who gave us Season of the Dead, I would have expected slightly better. I mean, yes, Killjoy has a thing for brainless slasher flicks, but at least he does those sorts of lyrics well. But if there’s one thing this album taught me, it’s this: just as you wouldn’t want Carl Sagan to write a horror movie, you wouldn’t ask Killjoy to write an educational science program. Scratch that, Carl Sagan writing horror films would be awesome. This, however… okay, maybe it’s just me being an anal retentive physicist here, but did Killjoy even know what he was saying?
”The oldest chemicals
are atomic and nuclear
Matter is created
through thermal equilibrium.”
Dude, that doesn’t even make sense. Like, not even a little. Chemicals are made up of atoms, and atoms each have a nucleus. I mean, this is true for all matter, not just “the oldest chemicals.” And no, matter is NOT created through thermal equilibrium. If you want to create matter, you need to move things very much out of equilibrium. The exact process is better suited for a quantum mechanics textbook than a metal review, but let’s put it this way: my stapler is at thermal equilibrium with my desk and the surrounding air. THEY ARE NOT CREATING MATTER.
Okay okay okay, this is death metal. Most people don’t care about the lyrics. I will grant that. But here they are unavoidable thanks to their delivery. Killjoy’s voice is a bit raspy, but he clearly enunciates his words. This can lead to some embarrassing moments; for example, when he screams out “Formation of the Universe!” as though he’s being tortured. It… doesn’t make sense. The lyrics to said second track pretty much just tell the story of how the universe came to be (albeit with more factual holes than an Intelligent Design textbook), so why is Killjoy trying to convey emotion as though his dog got run over?
Oh, how I wish I could say the mistakes in songwriting were limited to the lyrics and their respective delivery. The Metal Archives page for Hidden describes them as “Progressive Black/Doom/Death Metal,” which holds true if you combine the meandering song structures of the progressive metal, the occasional simplistic tremolo-picked riff of black metal, the slower and drawn-out style of doom metal, and the chugging straightforwardness of death metal. In other words, it’s everything bland and boring and dull of each of those genres all rolled into one snooze-inducing package.
But here’s the worst part: it’s not completely terrible. There’s a small glimmer of decency among some of the riffs in some of the songs. Why is this bad? Because instead of making me just want to turn it off and listen to nothing, this album actively makes me want to listen to something else. It reminds me just enough of music in the respective genres that I actually like that most of the time when I try listening to this album, I stop partway through the first track and throw on something else. If I completely ignore your music and don’t care one way or another if it’s playing, you’ve achieved total mediocrity. If I would rather turn off your music and sit in silence, you’re bad. But when your music reminds me that I have better things in the same style to listen to? You might as well be playing for the other team.
For example, consider Ice Crust of Yek. It’s a short piece, sitting just around 2 minutes. But hey, it comes storming out of the gate with a pretty cool riff. It doesn’t fuck around, it gets right to business. And then it sits there. Yeah, it’s a one-gear piece, and then it’s over. It’s almost as though they wrote half a song, came up on a deadline, and just decided to double it to justify it as a track. But hey, at only two minutes long, it’s not like it can really wear out its welcome… unlike, say, the album opener, which takes more than two minutes to even get rolling. I guess it’s supposed to be a doomy, atmospheric riff, but it feels as empty and devoid of atmosphere as deep space itself. Doom metal without atmosphere is pretty useless. The majority of this album is useless.
This album just ultimately sounds amateurish, as though the band had no idea what they were doing. I might have expected this out of a bunch of teenagers, but from someone who released arguably one of the earliest death metal albums? Killjoy has done much better than this. It definitely says something when your guest star on the hidden track at the very end of the album is the highlight. In fact, Mirai’s involvement there is the final nail in this release’s already-sealed coffin: that little bonus track consists of the opening riffs of Hidden (Unknown and Nameless) with Mirai’s spacey, semi-orchestral synths on top of the guitars. Seriously, if the entire album had that kind of atmosphere, it might have been worth listening to. As is, though, don’t waste your time. You might say that you should keep this obscure little project… hidden.