Cleric


(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

Regressions (2010) , 7.5/10
Retrocausal (2017), 7/10
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Philadelphia's foursome Cleric (Nick Shellenberger on vocals and keyboards, James Lynch on bass and theremin, Larry Kwartowitz on drums, Matt Hollenberg on guitar) debuted with Regressions (Web of Mimicry, 2010), a revolutionary death-metal album that consists of lengthy compositions. Allotriophagy (19:23) unleashes ferocious instincts until a sudden implosion enters a dimension of dancing digital zombies replete with a dead monk's choir, of chaotic percussion and shamanic invocations; then a jagged limping vomiting attack is similarly drowned in an agonizing finale of screams, digital noise, banging percussion and bottomless rumbles. A Rush Of Blood (10:17) is rocked by a similar uncontrollable nervous breakdown alternating with sections of harrowing quasi-silent immobility; and, as the piece progresses and continues to trigger one emotional atonal earthquake after the other, the intermezzos feel like free jazz in a mental asylum. The cacophony gets enhanced with childish drumming in The Boon (6:22) and the effect is to make it even more propulsive and demonic (alas, this time a lame ending mars the whole atmosphere). Cumberbund (12:07) opens with an inspired romp but then the grueling rhythm is repeatedly interrupted as the band keeps tripping over itself, and the piece begins to sound like a random accumulation of devastating noise occasionally relieved by catatonic trances. Then, again, this could be the emotional peak of the album. The free-jazz feeling is further reinforced by the piano motif that triggers the initial eruption of Poisonberry Pie (9:54) and prog-rock accents abound in its second half. The album closes with the abstract impressionist piece, The Fiberglass Cheesecake (11:28), that emerges after the last pulverizing grindcore seizure, a simple slow dreamy piano sonata. Exhilarating and exhausting. (Translation by/ Tradotto da Gianfranco Federico)

Il quartetto di Philadelphia Cleric (Nick Shellenberger alla voce e alle tastiere, James Lynch al basso e al theremin, Larry Kwartowitz alla batteria, Matt Hollenberg alla chitarra) debuttò con Regressions (Web of Mimicry, 2010), un rivoluzionario album di death-metal che conteneva lunghe composizioni. Allotriophagy (19:23) sfoga istinti feroci finché un’improvvisa implosione conduce in una dimensione di zombie digitali che ballano, riempita con un coro da monaco moribondo, percussioni caotiche e invocazioni sciamaniche; poi, allo stesso modo, un ruvido, agonizzante attacco di vomito viene annegato in un languente finale fatto di urla, rumore digitale, percussioni che picchiano e rimbombi senza fondo. A Rush Of Blood (10:17) è scosso da un simile, incontrollabile collasso nervoso, che si alterna a momenti di straziante immobilità quasi silenziosa; e man mano che il brano progredisce e continua a innescare un terremoto emozionale e atonale dopo l’altro, gli intermezzi sembrano free-jazz da manicomio.  La cacofonia viene rafforzata da un drumming infantile in The Boon (6:22) e l’effetto è quello di renderla persino più propulsiva e demoniaca (anche se stavolta un finale debole guasta l’intera atmosfera). Cumberbund (12:07) si apre con un chiasso ispirato, ma l’estenuante ritmo viene ripetutamente interrotto, giacché la band continua a inciampare su se stessa e il brano inizia a suonare come un accumulo casuale di rumore devastante, occasionalmente alleviato da momenti di trance catatonica. Questo potrebbe essere il picco emozionale dell’album. Il sentore di free-jazz è ulteriormente rinforzato dal motivo di piano che fa scattare l’eruzione iniziale di Poisonberry Pie (9:54), mentre accenti di prog-rock abbondano nella seconda metà del pezzo. L’album si chiude con l’astratta pièce impressionista The Fiberglass Cheesecake (11:28) che lascia emergere, dopo l’ultimo, polverizzante attacco di grindcore, una semplice, lenta e sognante sonata per pianoforte. Esilarante ed estenuante.

If the first album was difficult, Retrocausal (2017), featuring new bassist Daniel Kennedy, was impenetrable, a volcanic eruption of nasty sounds. Each composition quickly becomes a case of sensory overload, and most of them continue for several minutes after having exhausted the listener's mental capacity. Each composition, and perhaps each single minute of them, sprinkles around an overwhelming amount of details and detours, with little or no interest in creative a cohesive musical flow. It's an art that owes more to Jesus Lizard's school of noise-rock than to the classics of death-metal, but here noise-rock is mostly a genre of disrupting everything that can be disrupted. For example, The Treme (9:39) opens with visceral screaming coupled with jazzy drumming and bass lines, then it is carpeted with machine-gun guitar riffs, then after three minutes it pause, but but the fifth minute it reaches a peak of cacophony, then it turns jazzy again, then in the sixth minute it concocts a slow-motion horror effect, and at the seventh minute the music sinks in a swamp of orchestral effects pierced by violin-like squeals (Timba Harris), and finally it commits suicide with a final act of collective hysteria. The continuous changes are reminiscent of Soft Machine's mature albums and of Henry Cow. And that's just the first song. If that's too cold and cerebral (it is), Ifrit (9:58) transitions from magniloquent singing and keyboards to (around minute 4) free-jazz doodling and then (minute 8) to a peak of alienation, with dissonant piano sounds peppering the stuttering music. Resumption (13:16) spends half of the time creating tension, notably the vocals, and it relents only after 8 minutes. Particularly jarring and thorny is The Spiraling Abyss (10:33), that proceeds at a slow, cautious pace, like a painful exploration of your soul's most hidden and darkest corners, and ends and restarts countless times as if enacting a ritual of self-sacrifice and resurrection. Triskaidekaphobe (11:44), which boasts perhaps the densest instrumental chaos, is another deadly incursion into the psyche, so painful that after five minutes doesn't seem to have the strength to continue. If the lengthy pieces lack an identity (they do), the shorter ones more than compensate for it, whether with the seismic concentration of Lowell (4:42) or the destructive frenzy of Lunger (6:55), or the nuclear radiation of Soroboruo (4:20), with Krallice's guitarist Mick Barr adding alien distortion to the annihilating cacophony. Grey Lodge (7:33) begins with three minutes of collective madness, a sort of demonic dance with John Zorn's drunk saxophone, and then sounds like a free-jazz jam of electronics and saxophone. The instruments do most of the damage, but credit also goes to Nick Shellenberger, one of the great, emotional shouters of post-metal.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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