Guilty as Sin
“Do you think,” he said aloud as he painstakingly drove, “that when we die and appear before God on Judgment Day, that our sins will be listed in chronological order or in order of severity, which could be ascending or descending, or alphabetically? Because I don’t want to have God boom out at me when I die at the age of eighty-six, ‘So you’re the little boy who stole the three Coke bottles off the Coca-Cola truck when it was parked in the 7-11 lot back in 1962, and you’ve got a lot of fast talking to do.’” “I think they’re cross-referenced,” Luckman said. “And they just hand you a computer printout that’s the total of a long column that’s been added up already.”
Phillip K. Dick
A Scanner Darkly
The first few listens, Guilty as Sin’s latest album was a tad disappointing. The ’80s grade thrash production seemed to flatten out the largely instrumental trio’s more ambitious and meandering compositions, but the more I spun it, the more it began to fit like a well worn denim jacket covered in patches for MegaForce bands.
III splits its time between old school thrash ragers and more ambitious material that evokes Pelican (with better drumming) in one instance and Voivod the next. The old style production works best on a speed picked romped like “Truth Serum,” but I would prefer a sharper, brighter sound on something like the cosmic loops and whorls of “Planets.” But bands that fund their own albums often have financial choices to make.
I crave that clarity because the trio has really stepped up the songwriting, despite the occasional false step, like adding vocals and lyrics to Led to the Slaughter standout “House Arrest.” Lyrical sampling: “House arrest/House arrest/Got me on motherfucking house arrest,” which sounds like it could be a parody of a really bad ’80s hardcore band. But all of that can be forgiven for the Voivodian grandeur of “Galactic Agent: Pacal Vocan”
Guilty as Sin – “Galactic Agent: Pacal Vocan”
The world music elements that felt grating and misplaced in the last album have also found a comfortable home. Breaking up the noise, the Middle Eastern bump ‘n’ grind of “Before the Flood” sounds like the kind of tune Karl Sanders puts on when the strippers stop by for a private show.
The bulk of the material is strong enough to overcompensate for the occasional lyrical false step and production that may not show off their music to its fullest potential. But bottom line, songwriting wins out every time.
[Full disclosure: the band sent me a review copy.]