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Hollow - 19%

Nokturnal_Wrath, September 25th, 2013

This album is pretentious, that basically sums up my thoughts about the album. It's an album that tries so desperately to be something that it's not that the whole music comes off as unfortunately pathetic and carrying with it an inflated ego. Watching From A Distance is an album that came about at the right time. The music in itself is nothing worth noting, it's bland, unimaginative and dry yet for some reason people can't get enough of it. It's something that will always astound me no matter how many listens I give it to try and immerse myself in the experience.

I suppose it's not the bands fault, really, I highly doubt the critical acclaim would go through the roof when they released it. So I can't really fault them for the reputation they've built themselves. I can however fault them for releasing a pitifully bland album with some of the strangest vocals I've ever come across. Watching From A Distance tries to come across as painfully earnest and inspired, yet the sheer desperation of it all causes the music to completely annihilate itself. The music is just so sad that it goes completely past the point of being tastefully atmospheric and emotional to devolve into realms of whining self pity and teenage angst. When the music is more resigned, as in the case with the second track Footprints I can get behind it more. It starts off really emotional and atmospheric, it's not trying so hard to achieve what it set out to do and so it flows more naturally. The vision feels fully realized on Footprints, it shows the band in their purest and most honest state. Unfortunately I can't say the same about the rest of the songs. Whilst they are in no way repugnant and horrific, the sheer desperation is really what kills it for me. Emotional music should be created naturally, the ideas need to flow, be given room to breathe. When trying to force the music to become as emotional as you'd like it to be the vision becomes lost, the music becomes a muddled mess of ideas.

There are several reasons as to why I don't exactly like this album. Like I said before it tries too hard to be depressing, that right there is the fundamental flaw of Watching From A Distance. It feels too rigid, too formulaic, not enough thought was put into the compositions. The music itself seems to have been specially engineered to be as sad as possible. The vocals are full of an absurd level of angst. They're painfully cheesy and flat out nauseating. They've got to be some of the weirdest vocals I've ever listened to, no one on earth sings like this guy. But just because they're unique doesn't mean I have to like it. Whilst some vocalists can capture a good level of depression and earnest emotion with their vocals Patrick Walker comes off as pathetically uninspired. His voice lacks any sort of range, it's full of angst and is incredibly overrated. Also the fact that they've a very strong presence within the album obliterates any semblance of emotion that could be buried within the instrumentation.

The instrumental front on its own is fairly standard melodic doom, nothing too special here but it's certainly not awful. It's quite effective at creating a nice musical backdrop, it's fairly emotional, quite atmospheric but it does have a tendency to bleed into one long, monotonous passage. There's not really enough diversity on Watching For A Distance. The riffs don't build up to anything, whilst they're depressive it's not really that hard to do. They've overtly melodic and melodramatic, no different from a standard depressive rock album. There's no power behind any of the guitar lines as well. Doom metal is supposed to be heavy, crushing and full of dread and impending doom. Watching From A Distance seems to forget the rules of the genre by making it ridiculously accessible. It's not really heavy, guitars aren't too thick, not oppressive enough. The tempo isn't anything challenging, the whole thing warbles on at a fairly comfortable pace that remains constant. There's no transitions between different tempos, it follows the same tempo for the entirety of its playing time. No build ups, no climaxes, nothing that stands out and compels you. It's mercilessly apathetic, disinterested and detached. There's no desire to try anything different here, just the same generic doom riffs being repeated at the same pace constantly.

When an album doesn't build up to anything, doesn't achieve anything majestic then it kind of fails in what it set out to do. There's no desire to be interesting here, the band just seems to have found a comfortable formula to work with and constructed some of the most boring music ever concocted around it. There's no power, no drive, no emotion. When an entire album trickles past without leaving an effect then it's really hard to find anything to critique about it. It goes completely past the point of being boring to being nothing at all.