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Once Again, More Of The Same. - 60%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 20th, 2009

Humorous football (soccer for you non-Europeans) chants seem apt when describing the music of I Shalt Become. “Are you Xasthur in disguise?” is ringing out in my head as I listen to the new I Shalt Become full-length, the fourth in the collection, ‘The Pendle Witch Trials’. As a person who chooses to neglect Xasthur of my own free will, this doesn’t automatically appeal to me however, it is a change from the normalcy that this American band usually drags its listeners through. After a long period away from the scene, S. Holliman decided to extinguish the flame of the career of the band before he even lit the match with 2008’s releases of ‘In The Falling Snow’ and ‘Requiem’. Given the fact that the material from the former was from a Birkenau demo, I wasn’t surprised at the laboured style, but ‘Requiem’ seemingly had no excuses for its failed attempt to rejuvenate the band with the same style that had come before it, a decade previous. When I initially heard ‘Wanderings’, I could accept its admission into the black metal hall of fame. Its influence is undying and its material produces a sound bands like Velvet Cacoon and Xasthur would probably be proud to produce. Although I’m not a fan of Xasthur (whom bore me to tears mostly), I do like Velvet Cacoon and I can safely say, despite some similarities, the two aren’t even close to being in the same class. This is another disappointing effort.

Despite not being overly ambitious, or even interesting, ‘Wanderings’ had a façade that made it oddly approachable and worth a few listens. The other two full-lengths however, were not made by the same sword. They embraced a similar sound, for sure, but it wasn’t one that was as capable of producing the same sorts of emotions in the listener, nor did it show any adventure in the atmospherics. Thankfully, as aforementioned, ‘The Pendle Witch Trials’ is a new breed of I Shalt Become music. Though it may contain some similarities, it has a few fundamental differences that make it stand out above the rest, even ‘Wanderings’, the beginning to this illustrious career - or at least illustrious in the eyes of many, not so much myself. This record, thankfully, is overflowing with emotional atmospheres. Unlike ‘In The Falling Snow’ or ‘Requiem’, it delves into a deeper flow of emotions, one that advocates experimentation. For example, this record contains clean vocals, something that has been missing perhaps from previous records. These clean vocals, though mostly incoherent, add to the hazy nature of the shoegaze driven guitars. I have no problems with repetition, or minimal effects, but I Shalt Become take this slow style to a new level of mediocrity. Listening to this is like being in a relationship you really want to get out of, but don’t quite know how to do so. Awkward and painful.

Think of Velvet Cacoon, but slow it down and take away a far chunk of the fuzz and you have a fair amount of the material present here. Though the distortion does still persist, and ruin what little atmosphere the cleaner instrumental sections bring to the piece, its still pleasant to hear I Shalt Become vary their style in other manners - like the vocals, which aren’t overly important anyway, which symbolises the problems this band has. Although they’re capable of producing experimentation in positive ways, these segments are overridden with plagued negatives that hack away at the positives like they were a tree stump and the negatives are an axe. In terms of the instrumentation, there is only one pivotal aspect to it - the guitars. This is where the music begins and ends. This is where the atmosphere is created and based around. Unfortunately, the guitars don’t really produce anything memorable enough to warrant vast praise or credit. The plaudits can be given to the clean guitars, for divulging away from the standard I Shalt Become sound, alongside the programming. Although they’re not the saving grace, they supply the listener with enough experimentation to allow them to finish the record.

Much like Xasthur do, I Shalt Become place too much emphasise of dull atmospherics. The distortion and slow building guitars breaks down easily and fades in the memory even quicker. The percussion is so drab I could be forgiven for thinking its not even there. Bass, don’t even think about it. What bass? The production isn’t lo-fi, but gives too much freedom to the main distorted guitar and that alone means the bass will be suffocated. I don’t expect much, I just expect something and I Shalt Become are far too content to fixate their sound around one which died with them many years ago, when they disappeared off the face of the planet for a decade. We buried you, don’t try to resurrect yourself. You’re not Jesus! If I Shalt Become were prepared to come back and reinvent themselves with a new sound, whilst maintaining SOME, NOT ALL of the previous attributes, that would be fine. One example of a band who has recently done that is Forgotten Woods. Left with a great style, came back with an entirely new, re-worked one. I Shalt Become left with a mediocre style and came back with the same one.