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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Album Review: Indian - From All Purity

Indian - The Unquite Sky
Album Score: C+
As a rule of thumb, when a band lists Waylon Jennings and Lynyrd Skynyrd as influences, you shouldn’t expect to hear funeral doom guitars and banshee screams. Apparently, Indian didn’t get that memo. The Illinois quartet’s fifth album From All Purity may not sound particularly Native American, but it’s not hard to imagine that it was born of a thirst for Fire Water and retribution as the band rips through six gritty tracks with the subtlety of a tomahawk. Riding the dirtiest guitar tone this side of Thou and a terrifying performance by vocalist Dylan O’Toole, From All Purity is, for better or for worse, as relentless and overstated as modern metal gets.

The blueprint for Indian’s songs is pretty simple: impossibly distorted, almost machinelike, power chords played over incessant drum patterns with a garnish of mid-range screams. That isn’t to denigrate the effectiveness of such compositions – Godflesh’s immortal Streetcleanerrelied on many of the same tactics. Second cut “The Impetus Bleeds” grinds along with steam-engine percussion, while O’Toole and Will Lindsay’s layered guitars trade minor-sixth chords and suspensions to create an infernal atmosphere. Bouts of feedback and currents of white noise permeate the wall of sound, allowing songs to change in character without veering from their established paths, though even this can’t spare album opener “Rape” and, later, “Directional” from a sinking monotony.

Halfway through, Indian picks the pace up with “Rhetoric of No,” perhaps the most interesting song here due its off-kilter rhythms and cut-time detours. In what proves to be a theme throughout the album, the song eventually meanders into a rut of falling fifths, though Indian manages to Houdini the song back up to a raging finale without any distinct or sudden changes (perhaps another testament to the band’s acumen with sampling and layering). To the contrary, though, subsequent cut “Clarify” is little more than four and a half minutes of sample abuse, replete with analog humming, guitar squeals, and what may or may not be a dialup connection trying hopelessly to connect to a theremin. Perhaps it has a place, in the same way "Bladecatcher" had a place on Blood Mountain, but largely distracts from the album's slowly building momentum.

All told, From All Purity clocks in at just under forty minutes but is already stretching a little thin by the time “Disambiguation” brings some new ideas via extended double-kick runs and tremolo guitar lines. As the most adventurous piece, it wraps up the album well and nearly invites another listen before simply ending without any sort of resolution (another of the album’s annoying habits). Indian obviously knows how to make a record bleed with unbridled emotion, but there is also a marked lack of diversity on much of From All Purity, even by genre standards. That said, it is an album that occupies a niche in our being somewhere between loathing and fury, and should be worth a listen if you’ve a hankering for some home-brewed Whiskey and Custer’s heart on a wooden stake.


Track Listing:
  1. The Impetus Bleeds (6:40)
  2. Disambiguation (7:46)
  3. Clarify (4:36)
  4. Directional (6:25)
  5. Rape (7:47)
  6. Rhetoric of No (6:18)

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