Pristina

The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow)

01. Moonshiner
02. Because I Can Kill You
03. Salt Water Cthulhu
04. Temple of the Morning Star
05. The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow)

[Trendkill | 9/28/10]

Despite what the title and cover of Pristina’s The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow) leads you to believe, Pristina are not a black metal band (shock and awe abound). Rather, the Connecticut based band are actually firmly rooted in grindcore, adding touches of sludge and doom for a very grim (and thoroughly pissed off) mentality. Pristina has been around for a few years, only recently getting around to releasing their full length debut record, The Drought, produced by Today is the Day’s Steve Austin.

Unlike most grindcore or powerviolence bands (I’m told there’s a distinction between the two, although I don’t really see it), Pristina passed over the short album/epic length tracklist trope in favor for a 5 track run at 45 minutes in length, with the album’s title track clocking in at almost 23 minutes, which is practically unheard of in the genre. This lends a slightly progressive feeling to the album, which is welcomed.

Musically, just about everything on The Drought is just right. The guitar work carries a dynamic that ranges from atmospheric and ominous with a sense of impending doom to pissed off and at full force with riffs big enough to be taken out of Scott Hull’s personal tab book. The bass provides a solid chunky foundation and sits well in the mix alongside guitar. The drumming is spot on and absolutely pummeling, with fills thrown about left and right with disregard for the safety of children and small animals.

The vocals are raw and in your face, capturing a very convincing and angry scream that fits well in with the primal nature of the music. Clean vocals, when used, are performed without much polish, just as they should be. Spoken lyrics also make a presence throughout The Drought, in both backing and lead vocal delivery. These styles suit what the music calls for at the time quite well and do not feel monotonous in the least. The album’s title track also features Steve Austin, Bloodlet’s Scott Angelicos, and Starkweather’s Rennie Resmini. Awesome.

Not all is conventional grind fare here, either. The first half of the song “Temple of the Morning Star” features acoustic guitars and bongos with the aforementioned sung vocals. The song eventually climaxes into distortion and screaming. This serves as a nice lead-in to the shitstorm that is “The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow).”

However, the album suffers in its lack of good flow. Coming out of the crucial mood-setting “Moonshiner,” “Because I Can Kill You” stops the momentum by having a sample from what I believe is the movie Jarhead take up over a whole minute before the band kicks in. This was a bit frustrating. I feel that if the band had provided some backing music to the sample (as they did at the beginning of “Moonshiner”), this wouldn’t be an issue. Also, the 23-minute closing track “The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow)” takes a drum solo which carries on for a few minutes longer than it probably should have. An interesting idea, but poorly executed. Otherwise, the drumming on the album was commendable. Load up the two offending tracks in audacity and do some cutting, and the problem is solved.

Sure, The Drought isn’t perfect, but it is a great listening experience if you’re into this corner of the metal universe. While this album is just shy of great, as they mature as songwriters a bit (there’s just about there as it is!) their next record could be nothing short of amazing.

Pristina – The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow) gets…

3.5/5

Bonus: Reverse the final track where the long sample plays and make it a mono track and listen closely to the rant. It’s hilarious.

– JR

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