Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Blindead - Affliction XXIX II MXMVI [2010]

In a past few years we can notice an increasing interest in making concept album – especially among bands that tend to call themselves ‘ambitious’ and especially among my proud fellows compatriots intending to show their knowledge and philosophy everywhere. Post-metal generally seems less affected with concepts, but last year both Rosetta and my native Blindead fell for it... Well, I guess our boys went for more unusual idea and that’s our subject today.

First of all – this is a long and informative review, so if you’re just wondering whether it’s a good album – try and come back if you’re curious to know something more about it. I’d like to help anybody who’s just enjoying the music, experience its background – lyrical and in general – conceptual.

An idea for Affliction’s concept appeared when the vocalist of the band expected another child and started wondering – ‘what if my baby had Down syndrome or autism?’ – this thought became his obsession for a next few months and since the music the band was making seemed pretty compact and they started to think about getting concept – the topic choice was obvious. Luckily, the child was born healthy and the album noted a huge success both in country and beyond borders.

Shortly summarizing the plot – there is a happy couple having fun and in a few months they receive a baby  slightly differing from their expectations. The story focuses on it, and we don’t really know much about parents – except for the fact, that they can’t bear the sight of their child and get to avoid it and at last – abandon. But is the sick baby just a shell with no thoughts? No, although she’s scared at the beginning, she enjoys some things in the world and she desperately tries to connect with parents and get their love and acceptance. Unfortunately, this type of illness is inexplicably difficult to both sides...

Is metal a sensual, full of sex music? Self-consciousness is desire and is said to be an ‘erotic tale’ and up to the concept – describes a conception of story’s main heroine. The song drives from anxious but yet calm intro to the growing, insane passion perfectly expressed by broken rhythms, mad riffs and growl & screams combination.

After 38 weeks a baby arrives and discovers the unexplainable world and sudden lack of memories:
I'm suspended in a smudgy, fuzzy, vague, obstinate nothingness
I'm swallowed, my world shrinked
And keeps getting smaller like it's trying to devour me
Then again I have a strong sense of assured safety

It is an almost acoustic ballad with recitation (big applause for a low, fatherly calming voice), bells and very atmospheric saxophone line.

My new playground became infected with fear and feeling of loss. The illness shakes the family and parents slowly turn away from their child who is unable to speak of its desires and thoughts. Little girl goes numb.
Rotten world drives me to create a new entity
I dream of coming back to the matrix, to hide
To cuddle
To dream and fall in love with
The warmth and paralyzing unconcern
Music gets painful and more sludge-like intense with its minor scale and a dialogue of growl and childish humming. Despite superficial heaviness of the song, everything is perfectly weighed and keeps balance between heavier and more delicate elements – building a passionate atmosphere without destroying crash effect.

Dark and gray is dominated by piano and multilayered drums accompanied by specially distorted vocals and whispers (recently popular megaphone) + electronic cracks. Conceptually the song extends previous one’s problem – getting lost in one's own reality.

So, It Feels Like Misunderstanding When she ceases to care about chaos and searches for peace.
Kingdom of me
Kingdom of purity
It's my paradise asylum!(...)
Delusional perspective falling apart!
It began with furious, chaotic rage again (aww, those massive drums!) but later on literally pictures a fight for inner peace – combo of ambient and sludge soundscapes that eventually conclude in numb calmness.

That evolves to light, a bit behind-the-curtain acoustic guitar melody and sound of children playing. The melody gets stronger and subbed with drums as the vocalist introduces meaning:
I wish I knew how to travel in time…
I wish I knew how …
Music shows us some beats and we are just about to think ‘wow, trip-hop?’ But All My Hopes And Dreams Turn Into is a song about disappointment and it must later reach a point of raging post-metal reproach - “No one wants to be alone” and every child wants just love. Rapid change reminds us that Blindead is above all a post-metal band.

Affliction XXVII II XXIX is a great grower - rising from calm, regular spoken part, through touching bridge: ‘Well, I shall have to stay here forever and ever’ to desperately sad and intense culminating point. Lyrically – it’s the end of fight for being normal, the end of fight for gaining parental love. It’s the end.

Affliction XXIX II MXMVI is special in many ways. There are few people who have the courage to speak of so called ‘mentally disabled’ in our society – especially now, that abortion or euthanasia are considered as a solution to this ‘problem’. Blindead tries to speak for children who are very often almost immediately emotionally and physically abandoned by their parents. Moreover, they do that without interfering to religion, ethics or politics. They simply ask: people think those kids feel and think nothing – what if it’s otherwise?
The album is accompanied by a short story Rhythm written by Piotr Kofta and outstanding artwork by Katarzyna Sójka. The story is a kind of a ‘diary of autistic girl’ whereas graphics are supposed to resemble sick children’s drawings. All packed in a hardback digipack and pretty cheap (7-8euro in Poland) which is a nice surprise for a young band=)

The parts of the story are also spoken on the concerts, which  involve visualisations and short films. Quite honestly, Blindead is one of the most interesting live performers I’ve seen. And now, they got involved in another project – a film My Little Bess that grew from the pieces designed for concerts. Check out!

1 comment:

  1. Dziekuje.
    Spodobala mi sie Twoja recenzja Affliction i mamy w miare podobny gust.
    Rowniez pozdrawiam.