The Death Of Her Money may not have a great name, but they do have a great sound. The trio from South Wales blend an appreciation for modern, heavy music together with an experimental edge to create a swirling, hypnotic maelstrom of repetitive, naturally grooving stoner-rock, kind of like Neurosis meets My Bloody Valentine meets Sonic Youth meets Can. The simplistic, rock-solid rhythmic base provides a launchpad for Kaskie's inventive, dense, discordant fretwork. "Spirit Of The Stairwell" is their debut CD album, with six tracks in 50 minutes, and follows on from self-released demos and a 7".
Metal Archives [80%]:
Having just reviewed the American band Ocoai and discussing the fact that there are two functions of sludge music, though there are those rare occasions where bands bravely attempt to add a third inspiring style (which backfires more so often than not). One being the token aggressive style that blends the traditional hardcore vibes (that mostly exist within the vocal portrayal), post or otherwise, and the second essentially being a more productive style, using high quantities of melody and lushly driven soundscapes to display the content of the lyrical themes in a different sense altogether, this band, The Death of Her Money seem to attempt to bridge the gap between the two, sometimes enforcing melody as a substitute for aggression and then doing the same, but in reverse, substituting aggression for melody. The two rarely ever inter-mingle. Its almost as if these two styles are enemies, forcing The Death of Her Money to find ways of working around having the two speak to one another, like going through a third party which, in this case, involves intertwining the vocals around the aggression and the melody, causing a chain reaction of chaotic sparks that result in some odd forms of instrumentation that are unexpected on a sludge piece. I wouldn’t call any of the instrumentation present here odd, or weird in comparison to most other bands of this style.
The Death of Her Money have a formulaic style at times, whilst meandering between it and an experimental form that allows them a certain accessibility that doesn’t come with the post-hardcore themes of distortion, metalcore guitar breakdowns and over exuberant drums. Songs like the vastly varied ‘American Cemetary’ add a sense of unexpectedness to The Death of Her Money’s style, which generates a familiar feeling throughout some of the hard nosed sections that often rely far too heavily on the guitars and drums for impact. On occasions, as previously stated, the band can offer a metalcore vibe that most certainly isn’t required, or even wanted and I assume it will not be to the liking of the hardcore sludge fans who expect their money’s worth when it comes to acts like this. There are redeeming qualities to this record, entitled ‘Spirit Of The Stairwell’ however. It uses sparse vocals, for one. The vocals often pose an immediate danger to any lush soundscapes that lull the listener into a false sense of security, thinking that the band will develop their quintessential ambient themes, but instead neglect them to reduce the band to nothing more than a shouting contest -- even when there’s only one vocalist! Who does he think he’s competing against? The instruments? Does he want to out shout them and drown them out?
It often feels like sludge vocalists are attempting to do just that, which is precisely why this genre will also be inaccessible for the most part, especially to newcomers who haven’t found underground metal through metalcore, or any core based genre. The Death of Her Money even tend to vary the vocals, with songs such as ‘Newport Scars’, which appears to be a very personal song about negative matters, uses variation to sombre affect. The title for this record would suggest that it’s a personal affair, with the bands members displaying their thoughts and feelings on a subject close to each of their hearts. Whilst I admire this approach, it doesn’t seem to have much of a place within sludge, or even post-hardcore since both genres adopt a mentality that rues the day whenever sadness takes over. Typically, this style of sludge is generally rife with overflowing anger and hatred that spills out and on to the listener like something from the movie ‘Ringu’, with the vocalists voice carrying his or her emotions off the page and into the bloodstream of the audiences members who’re totally in awe of the ability to make them feel as if they’re the individuals behind the conceptual music. The vocals switch from lessened shouts to flowing hums that situate themselves alongside the cleaner aspects of the instrumentation well, like the stiff bass section that usually doesn’t let up from the devastatingly ominous ground work it implements into the music. Not for the first time however, the best and most daring elements are the subtle ones that speak volumes to the listener.
The expressive parts, which includes the oddly displayed vocals (sometimes they sound too low and overpowered by the guitars -- they’re also Neurosis inspired on occasions, which is nice to see, ‘Falling Painting’ is a good example of that, though they do eventually transform into much better and cleaner vocals) and the harsh guitar work, are usually the less likeable parts. Even the bass is a bit too harsh for my liking. It situates itself between the guitars and the vocals and levels things out with its own sledgehammer affect, beating the listener with tones so angry that they seem fit to burst. ‘Falling Painting’ is one of my favoured songs on the record. It has a black metal sound to it, surprisingly enough. The whirlwind affect, as I like to call it, of the guitars with the repetitive themes can be likened to what black metal bands do with their guitar segments. Repeat, repeat and repeat with lots of distortion. This song does, like the rest of the songs, contain a supplemented amount of experimentation. This experimentation is fed through a tube into the soundscapes so that it doesn’t get ahead of itself, or ruin the image of the band. The experimentation takes place in all areas but is best when The Death of Her Money use the guitars to symbolise the themes with cleaner guitars and lush settings. I was surprised to read that this is a Welsh band. Not that the Welsh are incapable of producing good bands, but just because this scene doesn’t have the illustrious history with sludge that nations like North America has. They’re a very good one at that, despite all their faults (which usually strike me as charming, in a manner that makes me like them). A very good debut.