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As befits a band with a name like Through The Pain, the style and themes are within the ambit of depressive BM and the actual music itself is a stony creature that you could certainly imagine bashing your head against without getting a response. Listeners are very likely to feel this way all the way through this album: it's not only time that heals nothing here. The steaming noise-guitar music grinds through its chosen path dragging tinny drumming and a set of shrieking vocals - always shrieking - in its wake.
The first track is a relentless plod for its first half until its sudden collapse just after the sixth minute. It slowly recovers with effort and with a soothing counter-melody that softens the edges of the ragged vocals and brittle instruments. Apart from this change, the song doesn't vary much throughout. The next track, appropriately named "No Way Out", continues in similar plodding manner save for a slight change in key and the vocalist continues to screech as though nothing's happened in the meantime. Yep, there's no way out of this lumbering repetitive grinding guitar drone and the wailing voices all right.
So we plough on ahead with "Absence of Will" where the opening riffs are a little more cheering than in previous songs but it turns out to be slower and more lethargic as well. The ragged screeching is a little less and there are more pauses in-between the screams. The bass rhythm is more noticeable and has a definite groove so at least there is something to hold on over the duration of the song. The repeating melody has something of the quality of a lullaby and can be pleasant to listen to if you ignore the wailing in the background.
After four tracks of pain - the vocalist's existential pain and your more viscerally felt pain at having lost 37 minutes of your life to hearing out this music - you realise you feel just the same as you did before you started listening to this music: you feel no more enlightened about the nature of suffering, anguish or the loneliness and alienation of modern life. None of the four songs develops much over its course; there seems no attempt on the musician's part to try to connect with you and atmosphere throughout the album is lacking. Sure, he's shouty but constant screaming in agony can have the effect of driving listeners away: it communicates no emotion and you feel the fellow could have just pre-recorded his parts and left his Moebius-strip tape to play over and over. Each track ends up being far too long and on each also, a good two or even three minutes could have been chopped off and the point of each piece would still have been made.
At least the album's title is appropriate ... time heals nothing, certainly not my disappointment that this recording could have been edited and worked over a bit more.
The major snafu with an album like Time Heals Nothing is that there is simply nothing to it. Anyone would be hard pressed to convince me that there was any noticeable effort involved in its creation. But to be fair, I realize that's kind of the point of such a piece. Through the Pain's material is fully intended to sound as barren and lifeless as possible, to create a paradox in which its own vacuum of melancholy sucks the listener into a droning, dull hypnosis. Unfortunately, most artists working in such an aesthetic have the chops and wherewithal to actually draw you into that lucid state, to offer some tantalizing surprise, for good or evil, hidden beneath the stone, some wriggling thing that compels the witness to hoist it from its muddied bank.
Here on this German band's debut, I'm simply not finding any such elusive trait. Essentially, you could take any trio of musicians on Earth with electric guitar, bass, drums and even a primordial notion of composition, have then spend 37 minutes repeating simplistic chord patterns, and produce something with nearly as much merit as Time Heals Nothing. It's that simple. Yet where some bands shine in simplicity (fuck, look at the Ramones), and even overcome these limitations with brilliant ideas, Through the Pain simply plod along at a null pace, about as exciting as watching rust peel from some long abandoned machine. In fact, aside from the fact that Baelvect utilizes the torturous strain of vocals reminiscent of Burzum or Weakling, I wound find it difficult to define this as black metal at all, but more like a droning alternative to the basic indie rock music you'll hear coming out of any handful of teenagers in a garage or basement in suburbia.
Time Heals Nothing consists of four compositions, all of which range from 7-11 minutes, so there would seem plenty of time to absorb the listener into the proceedings, but it fails to do this. Instead of sounding in pain in the opener "Dwell in Agony", Baelvect just sounds like he's fucking around, and he continues to do so in the clean guitar sequence at 6:30, which despite itself is the clear highlight. "No Way Out" is slightly more painful due to the desperation of the chords, but it's just too basic to compel. The later tracks, "Absence of Will" and "Time Heals Nothing" are the stronger of the four, but even these operate on a truly primitive foundation, with nothing below the surface, just steady melodic bass lines affixed to the repetitious chords. At some points deep in the album, you do feel like something is on the edge of happening, but the slight shifts in riffing continue to cry wolf until the album's end.
For all I know, Through the Pain might be a trio of virtuosos who were simply attempting to capture a particular mood when writing this, but I found it ultimately as empty as a stripped down Svarti Loghin, as mind numbingly vacant as the hideously overrated Alcest, sans the melodic course those bands weave toward a greater accessibility. I am not opposed to minimal aesthetics in metal music, and if you'll sift through these pages you'll find a great amount of my praise for black metal bands who explore that path while keeping the listener on edge, but I do draw a line when something becomes as vapid as this, and the raw production doesn't really help here, since there is no real atmosphere with which it can capitulate. Time Heals Nothing is not long enough to become frustrating, or a staggering bore, but its ineffectual nature fosters none of the satisfying, negative emotion so intrinsic to this sub-genre.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from Through The Pain. After the split with Trist, the iconic Czech Republic based one man band, I was on the fence as to whether or not I thought this band could succeed in this sub-genre. It seems that their first full-length, entitled ‘Time Heals Nothing’, has been well received by the masses, but I find it to be really ponderous and not at all charismatic. The material seems to take an influence from Trist, as well as Hypothermia, but without the gruelling, punishing and downright devastating affect those two iconic bands in the sub-genre draw out through their agonising music. Although Trist have seemingly gone down the shitter with their lead man, also named Trist, being somewhat psychotic (I do believe he actually does have a few mental issues) and Hypothermia becoming more and more secluded from the scene, there is room for someone to take their place while they look to be on hiatus. Through The Pain could have it all if they actually worked on being powerful instead of clichéd. There is only one true highlight to this album, otherwise it’s very much a by-the-book affair with little in the way of innovation from the standard. It’s not exactly well paced, seeing as the songs are quite long, but it is sufficiently melancholic and emotional, though it could have done with stronger riffs because, on songs like ‘Absence of Will’, the bass tends to eclipse the performance of the guitar.
The fact that they have Hypothermia’s drummer, Richard, enlisted into the newly formed line-up, though only as a session member, the three-some could have shared the spoils of taking advantage of a real leading inspiration in today’s present scene, but ‘Time Heals Nothing’ is a fairly formulaic display of negative emotions and really doesn’t spark any new energy, or life into the sub-genre which has seen a recent improvement in technical ability and vision through the likes of Pensées Nocturnes and so forth. With bands now starting to introduce elements of classical, neoclassic and other various genres into this negative spectrum, Through The Pain are beginning to gather dust by reproducing what bands like Hypothermia have already covered. Whilst I’m not against the idea of taking after your role models, after all, that is how many numerous sub-genres and fresh sounds are created, there must be an extra added element to the music to make transform it from an overused, formulaic branch of music, to an extraordinary display of negative emotions, grace, subtleties and do forth.
Bands like Gris, for example, have worked tirelessly on producing a top-quality sound by introducing a wide range of elements into their music that don’t normally get associated with depressive black metal. In fact, their music is so adventurous and unique that it really seems to transcend black metal altogether. If it were not for the agonising vocals of Icare, I would wonder whether or not it can be pigeon holed into a genre like depressive black metal. Through The Pain do some things differently, as shown well on ‘Absence of Will’, which actually feels far more upbeat than your normal song in this sub-genre. The bass on this particular song is very good. It gives the atmosphere a bouncy, vibrant quality despite the nature of the song attempting to be downright depressed. The song title, the rasped vocals and even the structure of the song should all point to a negative conclusion, but the material feels somewhat, and refreshingly so, jovial, hopeful and upbeat. Not something I would have expected from a sub-genre, or band like this who revolve around sullen emotions.
This song seems to stand alone however. None of the other songs conjure up such a happy atmosphere. The bass, on this song, is incredibly important. It gives a positive, bright outlook and a sunny feel to the material, as if we’re gazing through a clean window onto a beautiful landscape with the sun shining down on it and on us, making life all the more glorious. This song doesn’t really fit into the general mould of the album, but I love it! It’s definitely the best song on the album by far. It shows an inventive side to Through The Pain which isn’t always on offer during the rest of the songs. Unfortunately, this one break-away song is the second shortest of the four available to us and isn’t as groundbreaking as it may seem. There have been upbeat black metal and songs for years, perhaps dating all the way back to Ulver’s iconic ‘Nattens Madrigal - Aatte Hymne til Ulven i Manden’. Once again, the song lengths also become an issue because, seeing as the songs are so repetitive from the drums, to the guitars, the songs could quite easily convey the same message in a much shorter space of time rather than eclipsing the eleven minute mark. This album is decent, in places, but very unsurprising in most others.