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I'm in a Coffin is a truly strange group—an American black metal duo between two men who hide behind aliases wherein nothing is really known about them beyond the ridiculous pseudonyms "Adorable" and "Sad-ist", and the two accompanying respective photographs of both members which are of "Sad-ist": bearing a gash wound from self-inflicted cuts and bleeding into his bathroom sink and "Adorable" who is seen with half his face obscured with Cali sunshades as he sits in his living room with his dog on his lap while wearing swim trunks. Sounds real black metal, doesn't it?
Anyway, concerning the music. I'm in a Coffin have received ridiculous amounts of acclaim nearly everywhere on the Internet. Every review, remark and notice of the band is almost completely and always praised; especially on this album. Why is this, I do not know and I will probably never see fit into what others see into this record. Initially I heard the band's completely atrocious first demo, of which fans have also agreed is a putrid pile of shit, but kept this album on the highlight of being worthy of a quality DSBM release, which I honestly don't even see straying to far from their original sound, to be honest. The terrible lyrics, the awful vocals and the mediocre musicianship never kept me up on wanting to stay along and interested in this band or this album as much as someone would think I would enjoy it considering how much I enjoy the depressive black metal (DSBM) subgenre.
I completely adore sad music, I am a major fan of a good depressing atmosphere in any type of music which is how I drew in so quickly to a love for DSBM. There are several artists within the genre that have granted the presence of my iTunes library including Thy Light, Happy Days, Xasthur, Trist, Austere, Deep-pression and Woods of Desolation (along with a few others) but alas, my downloading of One Final Action did not see a stray fit in my library for long. By the end of the last song, I knew it had to be rid of and here I am to explain the flaws of this record that no one else seems to have an open eye for (according to what I've read on several music websites).
So here we are, the first track on this release "I'm a Weapon Against Myself"; the title alone sounds more like something that would be a groaning rap song than anything related to metal, but again let's not judge the band by anything else but the music (because believe me if I did so, their appearances would have put me off on the first three seconds). This song begins with a long intro coupled with light guitar riffs and a long sample from the beloved 80s comedy flick Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Once this sample ends, the music itself doesn't sound all to different from what it was in the intro initially. Just an added bass guitar, some typical and really standard drumming along with whiny vocals that come off like he might as well be crying out "woe is me, woe is me, woe is me" several times. His vocals are not only annoying but very strange like the rest of this band. The black metal rasp or scream is not here as much as it is expected to be (although he does use it occasionally). His main vocal style is more like a miserable yell, for this case and barely fits the music for that matter.
So considering how much I've been talking about the negatives for this record, is there anything I found good since apparently so many just go balls to the wall for this group? Well there are some parts that aren't as bad, I guess you can say. One thing I have to note that I did really enjoy about this release is the role that the bass guitar holds throughout the entire record and the fact that it's used as a lead instrument.
Traditionally in almost all music based upon rock and the genres grown off of rock such as metal and otherwise have the guitar as a lead instrument towering over the bass guitar. For I'm in a Coffin's case, those roles are reversed. The bass plays as a lead instrument while the guitars lay as a rhythm element. This is not only strange, but somehow captivating, thus increasing my overall score for this album because of this highly experimental and innovative technique that black metal probably has never visited before. The bass is produced louder than the guitars in this manner simply to give it that effect along with the fact that the guitars are extremely fuzzy while the bass lay in a clean produced atmosphere almost as if the two instruments sound like they were recorded in two different eras in two different studios. Bass sounds like it was recorded for the next Katy Perry single, while the guitar sounds like it was recorded in 1993 with a potato in Varg Vikernes' garage. This is the first black metal album I've ever heard to use a bass as a lead instrument over the guitars let alone it may also be the only one to exist.
Also, another pro I'd like to throw out right now is that the intro to "Wrist Deep in Depression" is pretty cool, the guitars are really classic black metal sounding, almost representing '90s Gorgoroth and if there's anything I can appreciate most about this release would be the way the bass guitar plays out in this whole album. The band even use a bit of synths in this song as well, if there's anything I'd have to sit through by this band, I wouldn't mind this song the most on this record; I just wish more songs by them were like this and I think I would actually have gotten to like them a whole lot more. Definitely not a bad song and Sad-ist's vocals are actually bearable throughout most of the track.
But it goes right back to mediocrity again right after this, sadly. "A Taste of the Abyss", while retaining good lyrics that I can personally relate to. It's far too of the same of the first initial problems I stated about this record with more repetitive musicianship and awful vocals, he even tries a bit of actual singing on this song, believe it or not. And it doesn't even stop at this song either, the band once more bring back a few more movie samples in the same vein of Happy Days (just not as executed as well) and more of the annoying vocals in larger doses. At least the instrumental tracks later on the record such as "Seas of Dead Infinity" serve as a breath of fresh air from these vocals (well of course, instrumental other than the movie samples that back the music of course).
I believe the main focus for this duo, if they ever intend on putting out a second release, would be to get with more on variation and not focus so much on how their vocalist sounds like he's about to cry on their songs. As for the movie samples, I don't mind them, but it just feels more like a Happy Days thing that other bands just seem to be ripping off left and right in this genre. And as for instruments, don't make the bass a lead instrument. It was an okay idea, but it gets too awkward sounding after so many songs. I love the sound of bass guitar and all, and I have played bass since I was 16, but here, it just doesn't work throughout. Overall, this release isn't terrible, but definitely not something I would be proud of adding to my record collection, especially considering how picky I am on certain genres. Consider going for Thy Light's Suici.De.pression release if you want an absolutely mindblowing introduction to the depressive black metal movement. I'm in a Coffin, on the other hand, definitely is not for new listeners of this genre.