With the Features of Man - The Burning of St. Paul's Flesh
Released off label 2022
This review was commissioned through Ko-fi. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
The first problem I came across when listening to “The Burning of St. Paul’s Flesh” started with track number one, ‘Bloody Pit of Death”. Listening to the track around the same volume level I listen to every other album I review, I found myself struggling to really hear what was going on in the song. Aside from the broken banjo sounding intro, the actual metal, doom inspired bits were hard to hear. I found myself cranking up my headphones to near-max volume just to get a feel for the song. And what I did hear was great; it’s a phenomenal doom metal inspired piece with industrial sampling placed well. It’s gritty and dark and I loved it. I just don’t understand why it was so low; and this is an issue that persisted throughout the album.
‘A Bleeding Saw to Split the Maw’ starts off with five seconds of silence. I’m unsure if With the Features of Man did this on purpose or not, but it’s not an intelligent choice either way. On each playthrough of the album I thought that either Bandcamp failed to load or my internet connection got interrupted. But, again, like previous song, once I got over that hurdle what I experienced was wondrous. An industrial / trip-hop beat laid down over the samples of otherworldly beings, as if you’re entering a sardonic hell.
‘Death Mask of the Sun God’ has as badass a name as it does music. Like true industrial fashion, With the Features of Man blends beautiful elements from all over, including xylophones, stuttering beat a la glitch and IDM, and rumbling percussion straight out of your favorite metal band. ‘Bug Smoking a Cigarette’ was lazy to me; very, very slight jazz effects placed under some ambient synths. But what happens is boring enough that I might as well be sitting in silence. I felt much the same about ‘Moon Radio’, except that the lo-fi presentation was done purposefully. While there isn’t a distinct lack of something, it’s rather the lack of polish that did me in on ‘Moon Radio’.
I can see how there is something to compliment on the electroacoustic track of ‘The Kindest Use a Knife’ but, again, as the song goes on I can hardly hear a thing. Especially after the five-minute and thirty-second mark. There’s very underwhelming vocals (I believe) deep down in there, but they’re drowned. Drone work plays with drum’n’bass on ‘Entognatha’, but it’s not a strong pairing. I feel as if the mix of ambiance and metal pays off during the middle of ‘Acrid Interstinal Cadaveric Spasm’, but not during the first and last minutes of the song. Which generally gives me around a minute and a half of listenable material.
‘Gnostical Turpitude’ has similar problems the rest of the songs had, with the primary beat being muffled beneath a bunch of sludge. Deep bass rumbles on ‘Skull Cleaver’ are clever enough to keep the song going, but still maintains a problem with balance. The final songs ‘Where Are the Eyes’ and ‘The Burning of St. Paul’s Flesh’ maintain similar problems to the rest that aren’t worth repeating.
First and foremost, With the Feature of Man needs to get mixing / mastering straight; I shouldn’t have to blast my earbuds in order to hear your product. Now, underneath all the filth, there is something to be enjoyed. Again, I look at Bloody Pit of Death which should have been killer but is so quiet it sounds muffled. There are a myriad of other problems on the album that need to be addressed, but With the Features of Man can do it if they apply the proper techniques. Four-and-a-half out of ten.Sep 05 2022
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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