Album Review: Greet Death – ‘New Hell’
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Nothing about New Hell is cut and dried. Predictably, a record with the word “hell” in the title made by a band with the word “death” in its name is not quite a beacon of light. It’s gravelly and stormy, with pureed hooks that weave into slinky ones, as if someone encrusted grunge in glitter. Album opener “Circles of Hell” sandwiches revved-up riffs between ornate ones, and “Do You Feel Nothing?” somersaults swiftly without lulls. It’s all a little askew, but that’s what keeps it intriguing.
It belongs to shoegaze, but with bleakness that overlaps with emo. Thematically and lyrically, there are loose ends and a few macabre quips sprinkled in. “Entertainment” is notably obscure, painting a bleary picture of swimming deeper and deeper to escape reality and achieve oblivion. Much of the lyricism is about not only accepting depression, but embracing it, “all we seem to love is the darkness,” to the point of feeling spiteful towards anyone who is satisfied with their own lives, “I hate my friends ‘cause they don’t hate themselves”.
This record is gripping and bone-chilling, an effect that’s brought about by a medley of elements marinating together. Still, one particular constant is worth calling attention to – the pricking vocals that provide a modicum of an outline within the ambiguity it’s swaddled in. Even when the distortion of the guitar hits its stride, they lurch forward and zoom right into your ears. Nasally and croaking as they are, they somehow don’t feel like a nuisance. It’s almost mysterious how something so granulated can still feel palatable, but perhaps, this very same voice would make people wince and tense up if it were paired with more ambient production. The haziness is tempering, not dissimilar from how coffee is easier to drink when mixed with milk or sugar.
Most impressively, they scoffed at the attention economy and added a couplet of songs that stroll past the eight-minute mark. Unless someone initially listens to this album via a physical format like vinyl, they will inevitably see the length first and maybe wonder if a cliff notes version would have sufficed. And sure, condensing is always an option, but these tracks are more comprehensive and satiating. The first of these is “You’re Gonna Hate What You’ve Done,” which starts off swooning and circling, then abruptly embarks on a steep incline about halfway through with a trotting instrumental piece. The other is the title track. It chugs along without losing steam, with a twangy vocal inflection and riffs that punctuate phrases. The track is about reconciling with the hollowness that ensues when a relationship ends and accepting that heartbreak cannot always fully remedied, “here comes a new hell, you are my bad dream.”
New Hell’s dimness makes it apt for ushering in winter. It’s a case study in how beauty can be molded from even the eeriest of things.
Bineet Kaur / @HelloBineet
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