Metal Review – American: Coping With Loss

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Metal Review – American: Coping With Loss
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American: Coping with Loss
Depressive Black Metal, Drone, Experimental Black Metal
Sentient Ruin Laboratories
August 19th, 2014
Release length: 41:15
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If you didn’t get it from the name, American is a Black Metal group that hails from North America. Virginia to be more precise. The duo of Mike and Jimmy (as they wish to be known) formed the outfit back in 2012. Come 2013 they issued two demos, singles, and a “half-split” with Crone, all showing a force that wasn’t just your typical USBM movement. Largely draped in the allure of Depressive Black Metal with experimental undertones, some Sludge Metal hooks thrown in, and of course the off-chance Drone piece built this creation up rather quickly in the darkest of the underground terrains. Since that split, however, things had gone silent until the reveal of their debut full-length Coping with Loss was revealed for 2014 through Sentient Ruin Laboratories. But with all the new recordings unleashed last year (aside the fifty-five second Demo that followed their self-titled demo of course) will this promptly delivered debut album stand as a reason to watch this group, or break any interest one should have about their existence?

Coping with Loss isn’t really a raw album, though some analog tendencies can be felt in the mix that manage to work with the surprisingly sleek overall quality to create something that sounds like the bleakest midnight. “Ritual Suicide” roars in with sharpened guitars that try desperately to fill the void left by the rather thin drums and distant wails. While the bite is a bit empty, it conveys a miserable emotion until about half way through. The guitars slow to a chug, building slowly to what sounds like a Doom Metal inspired slam mixed with a traditional breakdown, exploding once more. “Solace in the Silence” has a number of infectious melodic riffs along side a solid drum pattern that finds the cymbals working against the performance itself at times. That said, the amount of melancholy in the first two-and-a-half minutes is truly impressive before again stopping to bring in a slower ambient piece from cleaner guitars. This heads into the trudging Doom Metal laced “Lamb to Slaughter.” Aside some shrieks from time to time, this is mostly an instrumental piece with cleaner leads to set a sombre atmosphere, all the while allowing the loud bass guitar to shine through and help make the experence a far more crushing one. It also maintains its consistency, not suddenly pausing for a moment or two in order to tackle something different that still manages to loosely suit the chunk prior to it.

“Decedents” starts with a computer generated narration about its pain while praying to the Lord. The distant screams are more to forefront this time around, met with a great deal of infectious hooks and a much tighter, fuller drum presence, all ambling towards a mixture of depression and Shoegaze before stopping momentarily to shift to yet another slam that is gradually met with some droning effects to build up some additional tension. The droning is expanded on during “Retinere,” but after about a minute of solid, venomous Black Metal fury. “Pulse Beating Slowly” carries on with random humming and distant strikes on a guitar behind what sounds like the clicking of a geiger counter and echoed childlike screams, all before fading to air raid sirens.

All of this experimentation and conjoining half compositions leads to the over eighteen minute conclusion “Coping with Loss and the Insurmountable Guilt of Existing.” Things start off in the rain as church bells mark an impending funeral, shifting to some interesting tribal synths and bass effects that sounds like digital fireworks shooting off that will make your speakers literally pop. These do show up again later on, though with more clicking and distortion as it progresses to robotic voices circa 1960’s Science Fiction. Other than the very start, none of this is really interesting at all other than the random effects and shrieking conclusion that seems to act more like cheap jump scares than anything of quality you’ll actually want to come back to.

If it weren’t for American suddenly dropping their songs at or a little past the half way point, Coping with Loss would be a wildly engaging slab of depression. Every single Black Metal performance grips you immediately, pulling you into a world of absolute misery before suddenly just letting you go to wander away and explore a mildly enjoyable slam or atmospheric piece of Ambience or Drone that sounds good but in no way matches what we were first given. Even some of the band’s Doom Metal pieces aren’t that bad, such as the instrumental “Lamb to Slaughter” and it’s trudging pace that crushes you every step of the way. Your first time through American‘s debut will have you pumped at what the depths of the USBM world have come up with this time, but the more you listen to Coping With Loss you start to realize this experimental outing is nothing but a teaser of their strength with an eighteen minute droning piece as the entree that is the least enticing offering on the seven track menu.

01. Ritual Suicide – 4:18
02. Decedents – 3:28
03. Retinere – 2:35
04. Lamb to Slaughter – 4:29
05. Pulse Beating Slowly – 3:33
06. Solace in the Silence – 4:30
07. Coping with Loss and the Insurmountable Guilt of Existing – 17:54
Initial Pressing Score: 5.5/10

American

Digital review copy of this release provided by Sentient Ruin Laboratories via Catharsis PR.