Scott Kelly, it seems cannot stay quiet for long. Not content with being one of the masterminds behind Neurosis, a member of Tribes of Neurot, a prolific solo artist and family man he has also found time to collaborate with several high profile artists, such as Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrinch for the acclaimed Shrinebuilder project to name but a few.
Following on from last year’s personal ‘The Forgiven Ghost In Me’ album and the universally acclaimed Neurosis album ‘Honor Found In Decay’, his latest outing for the titans of extreme’s own label Neurot is another collaborative affair, this time featuring the misanthropic talents of Eyehategod’s Mike IX Williams as well as heavyweights Bruce Lamont and Sandford Parker (of Yakuza and Minsk respectively).
Coming together under the umbrella of Corrections House, their 50 minute debut ‘Last City Zero‘ is a striking piece of nihilism that combines the deep laid back moaning style of Kelly with the frenzied shrieking of Williams; mangling industrial crunch with cutting beat poetry and folk introspection.
This is one of the more unique collaborations and for all it’s savagery ‘Last City Zero‘ is extremely soulful in places, a dissection of the dichotomies of the modern world; both ultra modern and a throw back and a yearning for simpler times with the two vocalists complimenting in their world views despite the contrasting styles.
Fans of Kelly’s day job will be familiar with the muted folk start to the album, mournful strings wash over the listener like a gentle caress whilst the Neurosis man intones “The travel of the stone” in a repetitive mantra with his smoky whisper. So far, so post metal.
Then ‘Serve Or Survive’ basically explodes (or collapses depending on your point of view) into a doom fuzz driven industrial nightmare with Williams juxtaposing the almost serene start with a raw, spiteful snarl as the music rages around him like Nine Inch Nails at their moist visceral. The electronics jar against the live instruments creating a swirling kaleidoscope that is part soundtrack to the end of the world and part religious bacchanal.
For the uninitiated this is definitely coming from left field as Corrections House meld sounds that you would more readily associate with the likes of Ministry than NOLA Sludge as ‘Bullets & Graves’ comes on like the pistol clank of machinery with it’s fast, furious pace and bug eyed rage; then ‘Leg Party And 3 Fingers’ is a doom laden piece full of haunting menace than leans more towards Neurosis, but never quite embracing the sweeping majesty the Oakland pioneers have hit. Instead this seems more reflective and more personal, a struggle to be at peace with the rhythms of the world.
Just when you think that you are beginning to get a handle on the album, the band embark on ‘Run Through The Night’, an almost Johnny Cash esque folk respite that is like the creepy cousin of Ministry’s cover of Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay’. Light on the surface in comparison to the twisted howl that has gone before, Kelly injects a timeless, earthy quality that adds a soulful edge to the proceedings.
From this point on the album begins to open up in style, stretching the performers and adding more light and shade. The machine music, perfectly produced by Parker to compliment and add diversity is back, but on ‘Dirt Poor And Mentally Ill’ monk like intonations collide with twisted howls before finishing on a monologue of Williams raspy spoken word observations.
The second half of the album is by far the more interesting as the mood swings between the terrifying electronic infused grind, at times oppressive with machine gun like marching drums and the more downbeat meditation. This contrast extends to the lyrical content with the two lead singers striking a balance between the world weary, more natural based observations of Kelly, sung in that familiar drawl like a long exhalation of breath and the barbed social commentary of Williams veering between raging anger and cynical questioning like on the title track itself where he asks, “If New Orleans is the ‘Big Easy’ then why is life so fucking hard?”
The album ends with the epic length ‘Drapes Hung By Jesus‘ a heady stew of all that has gone before, beginning like it started with clashing industrial music and a screaming collapse of feedback, but Kelly’s Zen like mantra replaced by Hell’s own beat poet spitting venom, bringing both a sense of circular closure and yet of linear progression.
The coming together of Corrections House seems like one of those moments where the protagonists caught lightning in a bottle, a project designed to explore the diseased, dark underbelly of the American Dream, like the soundtrack to a David Lynch film, both mesmerising and terrifying at the same time, a true one off concept that journeys through the past and present as a message to the future.
It’s not perfect, at times it is ugly and raw, but it is something special and a captivating project delivered with complete conviction by its cast of players, even if it is a one off event…Lets hope not.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden