Author & Punisher
Category: Doom Metal / Industrial / Experimental
Album: Melk En Honing
Blurb: A cacophonous symphony of decay and ruin, guiding the listener through a land where the milk and honey have gone sour and stale, with only the faintest glimmers of hope shining through the sublime melodies.
Hailing from the veritable utopia that is San Diego, CA, Tristan Shone has over the course of his 10 years as Author & Punisher been refining his singularly original approach to doom metal. Defying the conventions of the genre by employing non-standard instrumentation – designing and building his own dub and drone devices based on his experience as a mechanical engineer – and fashioning a grimly apocalyptic world in his own mind, Author & Punisher takes a bold step forward with his sixth album. Co-produced by Philip H. Anselmo and released via the heavy metal guru’s Housecore Records imprint, Melk En Honing presents some of the artist’s most challenging and most atmospheric work yet, and one that threatens to establish a whole new paradigm for how people perceive metal.
A scathing and distorted windup reminiscent of the kind of pitch- and circuit-bent noise drones that Trent Reznor became identified with in the mid ‘90s enters the speakers; then an explosive haze of sustained power chords and Shone’s guttural voice, and “The Barge” begins Melk En Honing in a rather haunting manner as vocalized ambience pervades throughout the track like the howling of damned spirits threatening to drag the listener to the murky depths of a black ocean. Throughout the album, Shone’s mastery of his mechanical monstrosities is not only heard… one can actually feel the weight of these musical tools as each percussive hit, each mangled electronic note resonates with a depth that is usually only experienced in a live environment. This is especially true on a track like “Future Man” as its harrowing and harmonious bass progression simply scathes the speakers beneath Shone’s impassioned cries of despair for humanity’s failing future, the harmonized vocal layers of the chorus making for one of the album’s most melodically memorable moments. Another example can be found in the menacingly rhythmic “Callous and Hoof,” the grating riffs of growling distortion waxing and waning with a fluidity not commonly heard outside of stringed instruments, like a machine unable to rev up to full power. Frigid pianos augment the song’s malevolent properties, as they do also in “Shame,” another track on which Shone’s vocal harmonies add to the disconcerting and almost dissonant tonality of the music. As the shortest tracks on the album, “Teething” and “Cauterize” are arguably the most straightforward songs on Melk En Honing, although they don’t skimp on the aggression or the slow burn of ashen ambience, the latter being especially striking for its oscillating riffs of industrialized noise giving the impression of a machine’s hurried and labored heartbeat. “Disparate” is sure to please the hardcore metalheads for its rather catchy riffs and alternating time signatures, while “Void, Null, Alive” ends the album with a track that begins as a standard march of heavy metal fury before descending into a desperate processional of atonal vocal harmonies and rhythmic dirges that take on the mournful qualities of a bitter requiem.
Author & Punisher’s music is neither simple in its construction nor easy to endure as even without the aide of guitars, Tristan Shone achieves the same oppressive and noisy wall of distortion one would expect from other denizens of doom metal. Yet to hear the man produce such a mélange of atmosphere and nihilistic energies through so varied and well crafted a set of machines only adds to Author & Punisher’s dystopian industrial appeal – creative music made in a creative way. The sublime melodies that Shone exhibits amid his cacophonies of decay and ruin may offer only the smallest hints of hope in a hopeless world, a land where milk and honey have gone sour and stale… whether that hope sticks is up to the individual listener, but if anything is certain, it can be said that Melk En Honing is a tour de force of metallic doom that demands to be heard.
Author & Punisher
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)