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“DD Review: The Long Dark Road – The Long Dark Road.”

* “Nine-minute rock songs don’t rock”
Pitchfork review of Shellac – Terraform. [1]

Score: 6/10
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The curse of reviewing this album from Soundcloud is that I knew exactly how long the songs were, before they ended. Or was it a blessing?
So we’ll call The Long Dark Road primarily a LIVE band. Hmm… well, the dictionary-sized press release for this album doesn’t say anything about concerts, so it looks that’s a precarious assessment as well.
What is not precarious, however, are this band’s chops and tightness, which foam up like a current update on Slayer, all with a decent knack for melody and subtlety, while they’re at it. Also refreshing is the fact that they don’t rely too excessively on that grind technique of pummeling the snare with sixteenth-notes, which from what I remember drummers used to like crawl out of bed doing five or so years ago, from Hella through Baroness through Pig Destroyer, and all that.
The more I listen to this album, granted, the more cathartic crystals of release do form in my mind, and at least on tracks two and three, “I Will Follow” and “The State of Our Union,” variety actually isn’t lacking, but rather shows up in plentitude. Buoyed not least by some precocious production with a vaguely liquid-sounding bass which makes itself known here and there, the band will stop, slow down, institute a tempo change, even quell into a lazy, trippy drone part, without any warning or apology. Ironically, the song that seems to have the most appealing, refreshing variety on it is “The State of Our Union,” the shortest song on the EP (and yes this is one long EP, though that’s what my press guy called it). In other places, listening to the entirety of one of these songs would be like my version of purgatory. So why does Jesu’s song length work and The Long Dark Road’s not? It’s a valid question, to an extent, but Jesu’s songs are slower (that British hinterland certainly cooks up some spooky, inimitable stuff), and the guitars make more use of treble. For this reason, the experience is more spectral, it’s not like just Baroness practicing its hand-tendon aerobics for 10 minutes. Plus, Jesu’s songs are ACTUALLY a little shorter (hovering from the five to eight minute mark), and this makes a lot of difference. Could The Long Dark Road be a good live band? I don’t think there’s any question. A lot of these songs are definitely technical etudes that budding guitarists and drummers could use as exemplary models, though I’d advise them to cover some Acidbath too.

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Brief addenda: to be fair, this album should be heard on vinyl, since as is stated in its press release it features “no digital bullsh**.”
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[1] I swear on my mother’s cable bill I read this on there one time, like 10 years ago or so, although seem to have taken it down by now (they’ve taken down a lot of their old reviews).

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