Our good friend Patrick Loy snagged a review copy of the latest Giles Corey record from Enemies List, and since he doesn't have a music blog, and we do, we graciously accepted his offer to post his review here. Just kidding, we're super stoked to have other people contribute to our drooling corner of the internet. Hopefully he'll post more here. We're going to speak to him about the pejorative use of the word emo, but otherwise, we think this is a pretty spot on review.
Dan Barrett is one ambitious fellow, more than anything he seems to want to put the concept back into “concept album.” Have a Nice Life’s double album opus Deathconsciousness seemed to come out nowhere and surprised everyone who heard it (myself included). It included a THICK booklet, which was supposedly written by professor of religious anthropology and history, on a fictional religious sect centered on the person of Antiochus. Next up was Nahvalr, an “open-source black metal which connected and collaborated with fans in an interesting fashion. People were encouraged to contribute via email; some material was handed off in person, donated anonymously, or solicited online.
With Giles Corey, Barrett returns somewhat to the template of Deathconsciousness, though in a more stripped back form. It comes with a lovely 150-page book with some most gorgeous photographs I have ever seen. Barret should be commended for sharing these photographs with the world. Yes, there is even a link included where even more photos can be found.
The music is as varied and cohesive as Deathconsciousness, though this time around it is acoustic based. “Haunting Presence” begins with some lovely repetitious Philip Glass-like piano before the wind sounds, tape clicks, rattling, sampled dialogue, drifting out with some minimalist piano and drum machine. The only drawback would be the clearly audible “there’s a devil on my…” part, which threatens to be a bit too much.
“Blackest Bile”, “Grave filled With Books”, “Spectral Bride”, and “Sleeping Heart” resemble Folk music the most, though Indie Folk would be a better description. “Empty Churches” is one of the best tracks, it beings with a sampled voice speaking about secret Nazi transmission when droning organ and Barrett’s ghostly voice joins in, haunting synths dominate the rest of the track. “I’m Going To Do It” is a mostly moody instrumental piece that serves as a kind of intermission. “No One Is Going to Want Me” is the most ambitious and probably the best song on the record. It begins with moody syncopated rhythms that will immediately remind one of
a soundtrack to an 80’s thriller. During the last two minutes, the song bursts into a soaring rock anthem that happens to be incredibly satisfying. “Buried above Ground” opens with the rhythm of "No One Is Going to Want Me" but on guitar this time. Strings and a horn section end the album with a rousing conclusion and some semblance of closure.
That closure is important as you will find none of in the accompanying booklet. The narrative of the book starts quite compelling, examining the life and work of the fictional author Robert Voor. It is only when Barrett inserts himself into the larger narrative, does it become overwrought and downright solipsistic. I understand this project was carried though as Barrett overcame a suicidal attempt, so there is going to be a fair amount of “emo-ness” involved. It just seems like the two narratives cancel each other out in the end.
Reading Barrett’s lyrics, they come off as overly emotive, one cannot help to think if the words were more ambiguous and mysterious they would carry more weight (not a Giles Corey pun). Except for a few instances, this really is not a problem when listening to the album. One thing Barrett has taken away from Black Metal (and Metal in general largely) is that the voice serves as another instrument. Barrett realizes the limited range of his voice and wisely chooses to use it as a ghostly
wash over the music.
Giles Corey is certainly not a giant leap forward nor is it a reconsolidation of strengths, it simply a worthy follow up to what came before.