(TW: This review features topics related to depression, death, and suicide, take care of yourself and don’t read this if you aren’t in a healthy mental state where this type of content could bother you, your life is precious and there are people who care about you. <3)
Written by: Izzy
When people think of depressing music, often they think of albums like A Crow Looked At Me, Carrie & Lowell, Skeleton Tree, Deathconsciousness, or maybe Sunbather. Albums built on an atmosphere of helplessness, ones that allow everything to slowly sink into your pores, the malaise of existence, the yearning for more, the needless tragedy of death, the feeling that nothing will ever get better. Rarely do people think of an album as aggressively depressing, one that beats itself against your skull over and over again, screaming into your ears the throes and deepest depths of human emotion where not even sadness can lie, where all that’s left is rage. In a word: Black Sheep Wall’s I’m Going To Kill Myself.
This album came out in 2015, nearing a decade after the band had formed, and was also their last album released. Truthfully, I can’t see a world where any band could follow this album up. I'm not speaking solely of quality because I can safely call this my favourite sludge metal album of all time, but rather the absolutely spirit-crushing emotional weight. Anything to come after this would feel almost wrong if it was made too quick or too eagerly.
I listened to it entirely on the recommendation of a close friend, and in its short 4 song tracklist it left me speechless. From the first track’s lack of distorted guitars and unassuming sound, driving post rock drums marching along, the screamo-like chords and howling vocals, you could’ve convinced me this was an Envy tribute band, but it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. Especially in its lyrical content.
Daniel Kraus died in 2009 of cystic fibrosis at the age of 22. He was the guitarist and mastermind behind Admiral Angry, a Los Angeles sludge band that would go on to become a cult classic. Brandon Gillickbauer played bass for both Admiral Angry and Black Sheep Wall at the time, and this album’s opener, "The Wailing and The Gnashing and The Teeth," reads as almost a letter to his late friend, and by opening the entire project like this it creates a feeling as if Dan and his passing were a major influence on the heartbreaking bitterness and enmity spewed forth from I’m Going To Kill Myself.
Everything present on this album is slow and repetitive, leaving large open spaces for its extraordinarily nihilistic and bleak lyrics to pierce through, repeating themes of loneliness, feeling like a dead end, every day becoming the same until they blend together, like the life you were promised was cheated from you, or maybe it never existed in the first place. There’s a distinctly intense millennial angst to this, it is an exhausting album I can’t listen to often, but when I do it’s always just as devastating as the first time.
"Tetsuo The Dead Man" and "White Pig" follow and set the stage for the rest of the album instrumentally--sluggish and disorienting one note riffs that begin utterly crushing and slowly turn into a rhythmic trance as they repeat ad nauseam. All while the vocalist belts out abusive growls of cynicism and directionless hatred, not leaving any room to breathe, pounding against you and piling up until everything feels tight and constricted, everything said is so vague but in that it becomes uniquely capable of shifting into whatever you want it to be, and becomes a vent for your own unguided anger at the world.
Finally is the titanic "Metallica," making up over half of the albums length, a 30 minute conceptual suicide note from a man who woke up one morning and decided this was the day. "Tetsuo" and "White Pig" immersed you in I’m Going To Kill Myself’s barreling psychedelic chugs, getting you accustomed to their near unbearable weight, all in preparation for "Metallica" to drown you. As they continue on and on, pushing ever forth, the transition into another riff is almost terrifying, and when it finally happens it flattens you, left reeling and gasping. Following the narrative is almost sickening, the palpable callousness, self-hatred, and deep-seated regrets piled as high as the human eye can reach, all culminating at the very end, with the lyric you’ve been dreading hearing but knew would arrive sooner or later, “I’m Going To Kill Myself.”
We live in dark and uncertain times currently, and I don’t want this review to be disheartening. Music that is hand-crafted to be as oppressively pessimistic and dejected as this may not be the best thing to listen to right now, but I find listening to or talking about sad music to often be therapeutic for myself, and hey, maybe you just want some insanely heavy sludge delivered straight to your eardrums on a rocket powered freight train. Whatever reason it is you came here for, stay safe.
Black Sheep Wall - I’m Going To Kill Myself was released Jan. 26th, 2015 from Season of Mist
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!