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Methadrone, "Sterility"

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Methadrone is New Jersey-based Craig Pillard, and Sterility is his third album recorded under that name.  Sterility brings us eight exquisite examples of the grungy and oppressive bass-heavy dronescapes, augmented by acoustic guitar and vocal elements, that Pillard has made the trademark of Methadrone. Never has doom and darkess been encapsulated so appealingly.

 

Foreshadow Productions

The name Methadrone has been lurking around the periphery of my awareness for quite some while now, but this is the first time I have encountered their music. Being naturally attracted to the darker, dronier, ambient end of the spectrum, this shoehorns itself quite easily into that category, and appeals to me on so many levels. The music is anything but sterile. For starters, there’s the inherent simplicity: it’s not complex music when broken down into its constituent parts, but in combination equals something deep and shiver-inducing. Indeed, I would even go so far as to characterize this as symphonic, and like any good symphony, has an innate power to move. In addition, this symphonic character transcends the usual stereotypical cod-classical that pervades the doom metal regions and displays a maturity, emotionally and musically, that elevates it above that norm. The use of acoustic guitar, along with the vocals of David Galas on two tracks and Pillard’s own voice on track six, paints a picture of an exotic creature, startling yet dangerously beautiful.

Album opener and title track “Sterility” is a perfect exemplar of how Pillard creates that distinctive ambience. Essentially composed of just a few layers, a drone backing running beneath a synthetic choir weaving its voice around a weft of alternating bass and bright treble guitar chords, the dense sedimentary nature of the piece nevertheless amplifies the power inherent in each layer. This signature can also be found in “Cominium of Desire” and “Horizone.” The former is probably the nearest this album offers to a conventional song, with darkwave singer David Galas’ treated voice lending a plaintive unearthly dimension. “Horizone,” aside from being my favorite track, transfixes the heaviest elements of slow-doom and melancholic romanticism into a tapestry depicting the twilight of the gods. A downtempo eight-minute epic mixing those ubiquitous acoustic chords, electronic voices, bass percussion and Pillard’s wordless voicings, this has elements of Robin Guthrie’s work for Cocteau Twins threading its influences around the entire piece. It’s a slow-dying heartbeat, waiting for the darkness to finally overwhelm the consciousness.

The one track that seems to be slightly out of place, at least for me, is the 16-minute closer. This departs from the normal run of things, and comes perilously close to being a true instrumental in the way most would recognise it. Simultaneously it’s undeniably a Methadrone track for all its difference of approach. Electric guitar takes centre-stage on this one, with some discernible riffage readily apparent from the very start. Slow-beat drums pin everything into place, while some high-flying guitar soars stratospherically above the dense drone background. However, as different in its way as it is from the rest of the album, it is still an inseparable part of the constitution of Sterility.

It's hard for me not to wax enthusiastic about this one. For me, this has all the elements necessary to appeal on every level, and to elevate it above the everyday. It is exquisite, expansive, erudite, and just stunningly beautiful. For me that’s all I need.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 17 August 2008 14:31  


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