Written by: Alex, Bringer of Payne
Forest Boher, the single member of Adzes, is rather angry on No One Speaks About It. In this case, “it” represents the broad threats that existentially threaten our societies as we know them, from unaddressed climate change to rampant poverty, and his anger is directed exclusively at the elusive 1% that maintain an inescapable influence over all of our lives. Accompanying his ominous message is a thick soundscape of sludgy, shoegaze-influenced metal.
The project opens with "Divide," a sludgy, downtuned track that’s driven by a melancholic, undulating bassline. Swirling vocals haunt the instrumentation, insistently questioning the world’s borders and the lack of compassion that is required to uphold them. As an introduction it’s stellar, for it showcases the sonic and political tone candidly; if you dislike this track, for whatever reason, there’s no need to go any further. "Jesus Built My Death Squads" follows suit, although sonically, it’s a little brighter with a needling guitar riff that reoccurs. This track is perhaps the closest that Boher strays into the mainstream, and is one of many highlights that are littered throughout the project’s tracklist.
The despondency breaks into anger on the album’s titular track, with erratic, needling guitars that briefly hold the sludge at bay. Black metal snarls match the ferocity of Boher’s guitars, and lyrically depict a borderline-apocalyptic America that’s hounded by forest fires and natural disasters. As usual, the capitalists are centerstage in Boher’s tragedy, profiting from the suffering of the average guy.
The halfway mark of the album rests on "415," which is the most atmospheric track on the project. Some enjoyable textures colour the track, but it does feel a little lacking, especially as the lyrics are equally as sparse. Perhaps the breathing room that is afforded by the sparse instrumentation is a missed opportunity to convey a more nuanced argument, but the lyrics remain deep in the mix, and are some of least-developed on the record. "Demon-Haunted" quickly picks up the slack however, and is assuredly a highlight for the project. The rising and insistent nature of the warped guitars is wonderful, and the mixing highlights each component of the track perfectly.
A brief interlude comes in the form of "Overcome," which features a pleasant guitar melody that drifts atop a sample from NASA, in which several stern voices gravely warn of the dangers of climate change. It’s well constructed, and wouldn’t feel amiss on an ISIS or Deafheaven record. It also ushers in a slight change of tone from anger to deflated for the final tracks of the record, as Boher abandons his desperate plea for change, and instead laments our lack of it. Sonically, both "Loss" and "I Won’t Last Forever" reflect this, with the heaving drums and dejection of the former doing an excellent job of encapsulating the weariness Boher appears to feel.
At the danger of verging on pretentious, Boher’s utilization of the sludge metal genre feels deliberate as a vessel to reinforce his message. Observant literature fans may draw a parallel to Kurt Vonnegut's acclaimed novel, Slaughterhouse Five, in that the messaging goes beyond merely the superficial and the lyrics, but is embedded in the structure. From the windy song lengths, to the buried vocals and overbearing instrumentation, Boher is clearly challenging the capitalist/mainstream expectation of how artists should offer their art. Make no mistake though, Boher’s debut album still sounds great, and easily eclipses the rest of the material in his brief discography. For the most part, the material on No One... is far more listenable than Climate // Capital, his most recent EP, while still retaining the interesting textures and non-conformity of the shoegaze foundation that it was built upon.
Occasionally the lyrics can stray into the territory of being a little heavy handed, and the English teacher’s adage of “show, don’t tell” comes to mind, but that can reasonably be chalked up to the intensity of Boher’s emotions on the politics. However, though often painted in broad strokes, Boher never fails to convey the urgency and intensity of his message throughout No One Wants to Speak About It, and consistently accompanies it with enjoyable sludge metal. If the events of 2020 ever make it to the big screens, No One Wants to Speak About It will make for a rather excellent soundtrack.
Adzes -No One Wants To Speak About It wasreleased digitally May 29th, and will be released on cassette by Tridroid Records on July 2nd
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!