Private Prisons are an Anaheim, California quartet who consist of Ryan Beitler – guitars, vocals, loops and synth, Federico Pennacchini – electric and upright bass, Deme Liddi – guitar, and Eric Romero – drums. The band formed around the darkest part of the pandemic (to be fair, what part wasn’t?) with a need to create and as a way of doing something fulfilling during a difficult period in history, thus Extrication, the band’s debut full-length, was born.
Some of the album’s themes, as mentioned in the promo notes, revolve around ‘torture, death, abandonment, imprisonment, eternal damnation, and universal cycles of violence’, all that cool uplifting stuff. The album cover (at least to me) betrays a certain proggy influence to it, such as could be found on albums by the likes of Elder and may be indicative of the music to come. Maybe.
The opening, and title track, Extrication, features filthy harsh black metal vocals with some unholy ultra slow sludge doom and post-metal ISIS style atmospherics. There is also a touch of Monolord too from around the time of Empress Rising, which is a good thing seeing as it’s my favourite album by the band. The influence of the latter adds a heavy psychedelic component to proceedings and makes for a crushingly effective opening salvo.
Lingchi, in case you didn’t know, refers to the ‘death of a thousand cuts’ method of torture and execution utilised by the Chinese until the early 1900s. Incidentally, John Zorn’s band Naked City also took inspiration from the practice by devoting an entire album of the same name to it, but when you look at the themes/cover art of Zorn’s grindcore influenced projects, it’s not surprising. An agonizing experience no doubt, Beitler‘s vicious vocals are seemingly reflective of the cries of those poor unfortunates who underwent it. Unlike its predecessor, the track is a little more driving and in a similar vein to High On Fire and Black Cobra with some pretty sweet chunky riffs along the way, but maybe a little more dynamic than the aforementioned acts.
a definite Celtic Frost influence such is its epic sounding apocalyptic nature…
Under Our Feet begins with pure ambience for close to two and a half minutes before evolving into more of a death metal vibe that reminded one of a record like Pleiades’ Dust by Gorguts. Like much of the French death metal legends output, this is a number that always keeps you guessing (I’m really trying hard to avoid the phrase ‘takes you on a journey’, so trite and overused is it).
Extrication‘s shortest track at four and a half minutes, Terrestrial, has a definite Celtic Frost influence such is its epic sounding apocalyptic nature. It also features the band’s fastest playing to date at one point, and so convincing are they, you wish they would have showcased and embraced this side of them more often, as they are more than capable. That said, the track is still thoroughly enjoyable.
The closing number Never Forget/Never Again has a trippier vibe and starts with some absolutely sublime Earthless/Samsara Blues Experiment psych guitar theatrics. It has to be said, it’s a groovy track, and is the number that will doubtlessly excite the more stoner contingent of the crowd if the band ever play Desertfest (other doom/stoner festivals are available of course).
So, another belter from the Trepanation Recordings label, and while Extrication does touch on post-metal (a genre I have a hit-and-miss relationship with), it’s also unlike some of their, frankly boring contemporaries, as there is enough of the band’s diverse musical influences shining through to keep me invested.
Scribed by: Reza Mills