November 25, 2017

Genevieve - Regressionism

By Justin C. When I wrote about Genevieve's last album, Escapism, I got a bit hung up on genre discussions. That point hasn't become any clearer on their new album, Regressionism, but I promised myself not to obsess about it this time.
By Justin C.


When I wrote about Genevieve's last album, Escapism, I got a bit hung up on genre discussions. That point hasn't become any clearer on their new album, Regressionism, but I promised myself not to obsess about it this time. Perusing the interwebs, you'll find them described with every combination of black, noise, grind, and sludge, but let's just agree that they play metal that sounds like ALL THE THINGS.

If anything, Regressionism finds the band expanding even further. The opening track, "Smoke," lulls you with clean guitars, heavy and low, before collecting itself into a hypnotizing doom with clean vocals. But at the halfway mark, all hell breaks loose and the track becomes a real stomper with exceptionally powerful vocals somewhere in the black/death spectrum. They make me feel like PUNCHING THE WORLD or falling to my knees and cursing somebody's god, sometimes both at the same time.

Most of the songs here embrace one or more kinds of dualities. "The Judge" roars through grindy dissonance while lower and higher screams trade off over slower and faster tempos. "William Blake," which is either about a criminal from America's Wild West or your favorite Romantic Age poet, is more compelling than any 11-minute song chock-full of switch-ups and hard turns has any right to be. Whether it be more clean, arpeggiated guitar riffs, a thunderous bottom end no doubt enhanced by the band's use of baritone guitar, or surprisingly emotive clean vocals over brutal eruptions, each section that should feel disjointed becomes one unified piece. Where most bands doing something like this would make me think, "Ugh, what's going to be next?" this band makes me think, "Wow! What's going to be next?" (You have to imagine the difference in tone of voice there, I suppose.)

Even though it's an outlier, I can't help talk about "Wind Chimes." This is a lovely interlude that uses acoustic guitars plucked in arrhythmic patterns to evoke wind chimes, although it's the set of wind chimes that comes with only dissonant intervals. (If I were more skilled, this is something I would craft by hand and annoy my neighbors with.) It would be fantastic on almost any album, metal or not, but Genevieve includes it because...why not? Expectations remain thoroughly subverted.

I said that I felt pulled along by Escapism, but this new album is even more compelling. Music like Genevieve's is more often an intellectual challenge more than emotional one, but I think they've managed both with Regressionism. It's a wonderful, weird ride that may suffer for publicity by coming out so late in the year, but here's hoping we see it on some year-end lists so it gets the attention it deserves.

Tagged with 2017, black metal, death metal, experimental, Genevieve, Grimoire Records, Justin C, noise
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