No Absolutes In Human Suffering
01. Mostly Hair and Bones Now
02. This We Celebrate
03. The Truth Weighs Nothing
04. Not With All the Hope in the World
05. The Vipers
06. No Absolutes in Human Suffering
07. The Crown
08. When They Beg
09. Winter in Her Blood
10. Skull Trophy
11. Routine and Then Death
[Black Market Activities]
Heavy, intense, and with a highly technical and innately unconventional approach to their music, Salt Lake City’s GAZA perform an unpredictable mixture of metal, sludge, and grindcore. Their two previous full-length albums, He Is Never Coming Back, and I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die are some of the heaviest albums to grace the heavy music spectrum in the past few years. With a penchant for a dark tone and feel, GAZA have once again successfully blended these three styles of music to give us another album that is not only a worthy follow up to 2009′s He Is Never Coming Back, but an album that far surpasses it.
No Absolutes in Human Suffering sees the band building upon their foundation, this time with more maturity and growth in their writing – but not to fret, as GAZA are in no short supply of noisy riffs, dissonant lows, and total crushing insanity. In a nutshell, this album slays.
Before jumping head first into this album, I couldn’t help but take a bit of time gawking at the album art. It’s rare when album art actually matches the music that accompanies it. But in the case of No Absolutes in Human Suffering, artist Mike Wohlberg conveys the tone of the music perfectly in his depiction of the hopelessness and suffering of the human-race. After a few play-throughs it’s clear that GAZA utilized those methods of emotions and expressions when it came to the writing process, and upon looking back at the artwork, with its portrayal of a bleak, distorted view of humans, with blotted out faces and the look of distress, I would say Wohlberg nailed it.
The albums opening track ‘Mostly Hair and Bones Now’ begins with wails and moans of guitar feedback, as they slowly build up to that inevitable moment where you realize this eerie calmness is coming to an end. Sure enough the song detonates, bludgeoning the ears with a wall of dense riffs, pounding drums, and a droning sludge that hammers the tone even deeper. The hoarse, bellowed screams and shouts that come forth from vocalist Jon Parkin’s throat cut through the dense sound like a rusty blade, as his voice navigates the twist and turns of the musics many avenues, never once lagging behind, but propelling the desolation even further. It’s when all of these factors are combined, that they create the soundtrack to the artwork, thus bridging the gap between the visual and the aural.
Continuing the torrential onslaught of rage and riffs, the following tracks offer up some differences that will keep you hooked. From the groove/grind-inducing slathering of ‘This We Celebrate’, to the manic wave of noisy-riffs, blast beats, jazz accents, and d-beat breaks of ‘The Truth Weighs Nothing’, this album provides minimal moments for catching your breath. The title track however, gives us our first steps into a more doom oriented trudge with the blending of post and noise-rock elements accompanying the sludgy murk. While seemingly giving the album a breather of sorts, the song simply pummels, as the shouts of “no absolutes in human suffering!” hammer repeatedly into one’s eardrums as the song comes to a monstrous close.
Much of this flow continues throughout this album, bouncing between straight up noise/grind (‘Not With all the Hope in the World’, ‘Vipers’), to the more refined doomier/post-rock approach of ‘The Crown’ and ‘Routine and then Death’, with the latter of the two giving the album its most massive and sludge-ist romp through their vision of a desolated world. Interestingly enough, we see the band ending the album not on a heavy note, but with a slowly descending clean and melancholic melody that removes any fears one may have had upon the opening of this album. A peaceful ending for a chaotic beginning. This mood is further elevated by the amazing production skills of Kurt Ballou (Converge, Old Man Gloom), always delivering a band’s sound with absolute perfection.
No Absolutes in Human Suffering is one of the highlights of the year…well at least for me it is. I’ve always been a fan of theirs, but this album just raises the bar, and I look forward to seeing if they will be able to top themselves. I can’t find any faults whatsoever, but I do know some may be turned off by either the constant barrage of insanity, or the repetitive nature of the doomier songs. I personally listened to this album on repeat for hours on end, and loved every second of it. This is GAZA at their most mature, giving us an album that while visceral to its core, is ultimately redeeming, which can attest for human nature itself.
GAZA – No Absolutes In Human Suffering gets: