Shattered and broken…
Filtered by Allan Jones
Release Date: April 8 2016
There’s a trend in music production these days which sees levels boosted because louder is (apparently) better known as ‘The Loudness Wars’. Well, I’ve tried every bit of audio equipment in my house and it sounds like whatever I’m playing the album on is knackered. I don’t know if it’s a victim of these Loudness Wars, or merely a stylistic choice, but it sucks. I initially spent more time listening to my equipment than to the music itself to see if it was broken, and when I realised it was the production, I then spent even longer trying to tame it so that I could actually listen to the music. Maybe there’s some truth in the old joke about an audiophile listening to their equipment using music, but I’m of the opinion that if the production takes you out of the music itself it ain’t right.
What makes it even more annoying is that there’s a great album trying to get out, too. It’s more stylistically varied than the previous six albums, with individual songs varying from full-on industrial noise down to the quieter, more nuanced and softer side of things. I can only assume that was the sound Richard Patrick wanted, for some bizarre reason, or that the microphones in the studio were all knackered. I’ll admit that it lends the album a very raw, unfinished feel – but I think reining that in would have elevated the album considerably.
Leaving that irritation behind, though, this is still a good album. Patrick has evidently been experimenting – tracks like ‘Mother E’ vary from full-on overloaded electronic noise down to near silence and violin strings within seconds to give what can only be described as an unsettling opening track. It’s aggressive and not very radio friendly – if you were hoping for another ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot’ then you’re not going to find it on here. This shares more of the sensibilities of NIN’s EPs Broken and Fixed than anything else, with a very shattered and broken sound and feel to the album. It’s less about the musicality and more about controlled noise and aggression.
‘Under The Tongue’ is perhaps the track most reminiscent of earlier Filter tracks, and ‘Take Me To Heaven’ is probably the most readily accessible track – it’s easy to see why it was chosen as a single, with the big soaring choruses and most of the underlying lunacy kept firmly under control. ‘City Of Blinding Riots’ is probably my favourite track on the album, though – it’s got an almost dance club feel to it with the rumbling main riff, but with Patrick’s trademark screaming vocals over the top it gets twisted and becomes something far more dangerous and interesting.
If you don’t mind (or actively enjoy) that heavily clipped sound, there’s a lot to enjoy here. If (like me) you find it hard to listen to, though, then this one goes down as something of a missed opportunity. With better production and more careful control of the dynamics, this had the potential to be a far better album.
6 out of 10
- Mother E
- Nothing In My Hands
- Pride Flag
- City Of Blinding Riots
- Take Me To Heaven
- Welcome To The Suck (Destiny Not Luck)
- Head Of Fire
- Kid Blue From The Short Bus, Drunk Bus
- Your Bullets
- Under The Tongue
- (Can’t She See) Head Of Fire, Part 2