Ill Natured – Depths of Despair


Artist

Album

Depths of Despair

Label

Deaths Grip Records

Year

2015

For Fans Of

Eyehategod, Cancer Bats

Summary

Slow, sludgy and heavy - Ill Natured need no introductions.

Rating

70 / 100

Hardcore has come a long way in the past 10 years. In the years since the mid noughties, consumer tastes have evolved from the simple formula of ‘thrash, breakdown, and chorus, repeat’. Audiences demand more originality than ever before, with bands constantly searching for ways to create their own unique brand of the music. Newcastle five-piece, Ill Natured’s debut 7” ‘Depths of Despair’ achieves this goal of originality, with six doomy, sludgy cuts which are sure to mark the band out from their peers.

Despite this being Ill Natured’s first substantial release, the group already has plenty of credentials to their name, having shared the stage with the likes of Trophy Eyes, Manhunt and Civil War, as well as having released a demo last year. This experience is evident in album opener ‘Disgraced’. The mixture of thundering drums, slow chugging guitars and, to put it simply, one hell of a gnarly bass tone makes for a huge opening track. This is a band confident in their ability to allow a song to grow steadily, with each riff twisting and scraping against the others, reaching a final climactic breakdown about 30 seconds out from the end.

Continuity appears to be the order of the day in ‘Depths of Despair.’ Ill Natured weaves these songs together both musically and thematically, creating 20 minutes of swirling, chaotic riffing. ‘Nature of the Beast’ and ‘Torment’ follow the same slow, murky trail, with deep guttural vocals adding to the bleak atmosphere created.

This idea of continuity has both pros and cons. As standalone songs, these are all meaty tunes which develop at a nice pace. However, when placed into the context of an entire release, it can, at times, feel like the listener is subject to one long 20 minute sludge-core epic. The difference between ‘Disgraced’ and ‘Nature of the Beast’ is particularly vague, with a simple four beat count the only indicator that a new song is starting. For a release which contains only six tracks, it also seems ambitious to have half a track containing simple spoken word (‘Heathens’) and an instrumental (penultimate track ‘Stigmata’).

However, these elements also help ‘Depths of Despair’ to stand apart from other debut releases in the scene. The way in which the tracks flow into each other feels like a journey. Despite the sameness of a lot of the songs, it seems that they were not composed to be heard by themselves. They complement one another and overlap. The result is an EP that may take awhile to digest, but displays a band with a creative flare to match their own appetite for brutality.

Conclusion

‘Depths of Despair’ will take a few listens to understand, but overall will win the band new fans. While there is still work to be done, it is a solid beginning.

Tracklisting

1. Disgraced

2. Nature of the Beast

3. Torment

4. Heathens

5. Stigmata

6. Depths of Despair

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