There's a line in Gaston Leroux's original romantic horror novel, Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, wherein Christine, upon hearing one of the Phantom's compositions for the first time, describes it as "one long, awful, magnificent sob." Never before has a metallic hardcore album suited this description as well as Pristina's latest effort, Hopeless•Godless. Wrestling with devastation, addiction and loss in a far more immediate, bloody and raw way than their last release, the comparatively more restrained The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow), this record is as honest and rock-bottom as it gets.
Vocalist/principal songwriter Brendan K. Duff sounds as though he's undergoing an exorcism, each howled or rasped word dragged out of him with hooks and chains. The production is at once simpler and more naked than previous releases as well, with the band handling all the mixing and mastering. (Whereas The Drought was the product of a studio collaboration with Today is the Day's Steve Austin, and had a more layered and sophisticated sound as a result). It's rare that production can be described as "intimate," but there's a skin-to-skin quality to the sound, an immediacy and care in the handling, that's palpable.
Hopeless•Godless is an incredibly painful listen; it's the type of record that's perfectly suited for those moments when the foundation of your life cracks and collapses. If you can stand the pain, this is a masterpiece.
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