Author & Punisher
Category: Industrial / Doom Metal / Experimental
Blurb: Perhaps the most sophisticated and devastating production from Author & Punisher, this seventh full-length album presents some of the project’s most darkly melodic and unrelenting atmospheric, where beasts of burden threaten the psyche.
How does one stay innovative after a decade-and-a-half? How does one having created a singular niche maintain interest and continue to impress audiences? Author & Punisher has managed to accomplish these feats and more over the course of six albums, crafting an industrialized brand of doom metal by way of Tristan Shone’s mechanically engineered drone and dub machines; add to that a command of unorthodox songwriting and exploratory arrangement, and you have all the ingredients that have made Author & Punisher one of this generation’s most outstanding entities. After the acclaimed 2015 album Melk En Honing, and then stripping things down to basics on the 2017 Pressure Mine EP, Shone signed to Relapse Records and began work with co-produced Braden Diotte of EXO//ENDO to create his seventh full-length outing, Beastland.
“Pharmacide” begins the proceedings with a droning subsonic bass and clanging percussive loop that immediately evokes the mechanized factory-like nature of a pharmaceutical industry on the fritz. Subsequently, a driving and ominously descending bass line carries the listener through a rather simple yet arresting track that is only the barest indicator of what is yet to come. Those familiar with Shone’s past output will undoubtedly recognize the signatures of the Author & Punisher aesthetic, which have once again been refined to achieve a greater virulence and potency on this album. As usual, guitars are not present, but rather suggested through the intricate sound design as overdriven bass and chord progressions like those heard on “Apparition” and “The Speaker is Systematically Broken” create brooding atmospheres intrinsic to the doom metal genre; as well, these two tracks are not without an element of whimsy with the latter almost ironically titled as the levels of distortion and the pounding rhythms doing little to obfuscate Shone’s melancholic melodies, which both ensnare and repel, making it perhaps the least obtrusive track on the album. Similarly, the stabbing synth riffs on “Apparition,” along with a croaking vocal tone could evoke the classical images of a ghost-infested haunted house; but don’t let that fool you… the track is still exceptionally creepy. “Nihil Strength” was perhaps the best possible choice for an introductory single as its ascending bass lines and sustained synth leads amid screeching vocals make for a brutally intense, yet oddly harmonious track, Shone’s uncharacteristically raspy vocal intro easily standing out as one of the darkest moments on Beastland.
Among the album’s most notable rarities, the track “Nazarene” is revisited and built up from the more embryonic version we last heard on Pressure Mine. Easily one of Author & Punisher’s most monolithic and monstrous bass progressions, the pulsating synth backdrops and Shone’s almost maniacal bellows create a rather disconcerting ambience that reaches a fever pitch in the song’s chorus, the sustained howls of pads and an almost crooning vocal resulting in this writer’s favorite track on the album. Those who suffer from night terrors may wish to avoid the appropriately titled “Night Terror,” an exercise in pure audio fright as a shrill synth hook immediately puts the listener in a state of unease; quite simply, the tension and anxiety created through atonal electronic effects and vocal repetitions is relentless, the whole thing breaking down into mangled samples in the coda. The title track then concludes the album with a steadier, perhaps mournful, though no less abrasive tone. As Shone’s vocal drones create a lush but demonic choir, “Beastland” could be described as a requiem to one’s sanity, lost after the myriad of audio terrors we’ve endured, the track finally deteriorating into crackling noise.
The level of sophistication Beastland presents in contrast to the project’s past output is quite palpable, making it an album that is as bleak as Juha Arvid Helminen’s cover image and excels in taking the sound of Author & Punisher even further… something few might have considered possible. As ever, Tristan Shone demonstrates a rather unnerving capacity to simultaneously adhere to and deconstruct the parameters that define both doom metal and industrial, with Kurt Ballou’s mix striking the right sonic balance to give Beastland a more polished feel without sacrificing the grittiness. Add to that some contributions from John Cota of Death Eyes and Jason Begin of Vytear, and Beastland stands as the merger of man and machine at its highest and most devastating level.
Author & Punisher
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)