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An Experience In Inconsistency - 50%

tidalforce79, December 20th, 2017

After Painkiller was released, Mr. Halford seemed to have suffered an identity crisis of sorts, which skewed his perception of adequate musical direction. The first Fight album; “War of Words” was actually a pretty decent effort, though it was not up to Priest standards. Halford’s musical abortion; known as “Two,” would prove to be a stain on the integrity of the metal god, but he would again recover: produce some respectable material, then rejoin Priest.

Historical summary aside, “A Small, Deadly Space” came at an uncertain time with Halford’s career. The music itself might be described as a cross between Fight’s earlier material, with tinges of a nu metal, though absent of “sludgy,” Korn infused filth. Yes, it is fair to ascertain this album can be considered a metal recording, perhaps “groove” metal. However, the album rests besides the uncomfortable precipice that would allow it to fall into the shameful, substandard anthems either heard on the radio, or professed as “godly” by angst ridden teenagers who worship the thought of being depressed.

The first thing one might notice is the solid production values. Though this album can hardly be considered a masterpiece of production, it is clear that Halford’s affluent career in Priest enabled him to afford a competent production job. A pleasing guitar crunch compliments the abrasive rumbling of the double bass and the authoritative snap of the snare. Halford’s vocals are properly layered, allowing the listener to appreciate the wailing of the divine banshee. Production values: check, album is good so far.

It is of no surprise that Halford’s vocal work is top notch-the man has been bringing the scream across the world for decades, and can still deliver. Each penetrating howl raises the hair upon mortal flesh, and bends all knees in awe. Scott Travis has always been a solid drummer-a talent properly displayed on this album once more. His fills are not overly technical, but supremely stylish. Given the nature of the music, little can be said of the guitar work, other than the fact you can bang your head and raise the devil horns (at times). The riffs are-shall we say, adequate? Thus far, the album delivers in both production and appropriate technicality.

So what went wrong? The problem is not what went wrong, but the fact that nothing spectacular went right. A rating of fifty percent is precisely accurate-right in the middle. The entirety of the album is a forty-eight minute, transitional, circular state of limbo. This listener is basically being teased as if receiving a sonic lap dance. In order to properly articulate the idea, imagine yourself been torn from sleep the very instant a wet dream is about to come to fruition.

Each time a promising riff assaults the senses, one of two things happens. First, the riff repeats itself until the orgasmic effect is nullified. Option two: each solid riff is accented by a period of mediocrity. One track deserves consideration alongside Priest, while the next doesn’t even deserve the position of a bonus track. The bipolar effect of this album will grate the nerves-mania is accompanied by suicidal ideology. If one is willing to brave the emotional roller coaster of “A Small, Deadly Space” rewards can be discovered, but anguish is aplenty.

To summarize, this album is like jerking off to Maxim, when Playboy is available.