|Cover Art by Fritz Silberbaur|
After playing and recording on and off for years, Chapel Hill, NC, trio Make suddenly ascended to a higher level with last year’s The Golden Veil. That album showcased the band’s ability to play opposites against each other: clean and sludgy, natural and mechanical, stark and lush.
In the year since that release, much has happened in the US, especially in their home state of North Carolina. Mass shootings have made us weary, Donald Trump has a legitimate shot at becoming our next president, and in North Carolina, a law was enacted that (among other things) dictates that transgender people use toilet facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. The members of Make are pretty angry about all these things, and have made no secret of their disgust with their government and those who applaud the government’s actions. With laser-like precision, they’ve managed to channel all this seething anger and hate into their latest release, Pilgrimage of Loathing. The result is like a sledgehammer wrapped in gauze.
Pilgrimage of Loathing begins with "The Somnambulist," which sets the scene for the entire album. The song begins with foreboding, atmospheric guitars, and angry rolling drums. Suddenly there’s a calming interlude with clean vocals. The song reaches a sludgy climax with bellowed lyrics, "YOU, you were wrong!"
From there the album veers from unrelenting noise to the types of soothing melodies your yoga instructor might play during a session. A prime example is "Two Hawks Fucking." While the name is rather ham-handed, it’s a pretty good description of what the song actually sounds like -- sensual and majestic. Meditative. I made the mistake of listening to this while driving through an empty landscape, and had to turn it off because I could feel myself going into a trance.
If that song lulls you to sleep, you’ll be slapped awake by "Human Garbage," which angrily bursts open from the first note, with sludgy bass and guitars, and screamed/bellowed vocals. At 3:23, it’s the shortest song on the album, but it packs a lot of venom in a small package.
The album ends with "Nothing," which opens with a repetitive guitar delayed guitar, slight drums, exotic melodies, and chant-like singing. But like almost everything else on Pilgrimage of Loathing, this song doesn’t stay calm for long, as it builds to a crescendo of frenzied screaming and ends with angry white noise.