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Gridfailure - Ensuring The Bloodline Ends Here album art

Ensuring The Bloodline Ends Here

13th May 2016 – The Compound Recs

01. Shedding The Husk
02. Self-Exile
03. Ensuring The Bloodline Ends Here
04. Apparitions Revenge
05. Paranoia Will Not Coagulate
06. Shackled, A Crown Aflame
07. Traumatized By This New Reality
08. Welcoming Pyroclastic Eradication

Currently, doom is enjoying its moment in the sun and becoming increasingly popular – one only has to look at the dedicated stages at festivals like Hellfest and the emergence of events like Desertfest for evidence. Beneath the surface of this success something is bubbling, providing a healthy environment for more experimental bands who have a foot in the doom/drone door; dark ambient bands that flirt with dronescapes, like New York’s Gridfailure, and are presented with a unique opportunity to display their particular brand of ominous rumblings. Their debut full release is sure to interest fans of both camps.

Gridfailure’s industrial drone is a challenging listen, but not as abrasive or unpleasant as it threatens to be. It flirts with harsh walls of noise but doesn’t commit to long, drawn-out compositions, offering instead shorter tracks with subtle but distinct personalities. This observation is not pejorative; eschewing outright drone monstrosity for a less full-on assault allows the release to be more unsettling than its drone or industrial peers. The release also features some elements of Musique Concrète, reminiscent of industrial factory sounds, which gives it an otherworldly texture that a lot of extreme metal doesn’t really engage with.

Many of the tracks feature strong synth undercurrents which help to give the Musique Concrète vibe a bit more of a drive; the effect is subtle but does help to draw these tracks out a little longer and give them a sense of purpose. This is especially effective on “Apparition’s Revenge“, featuring wailing effects and some spooky synths; of all the album tracks, this is the most effective and differs most noticeably from the others. The titular “Ensuring the Bloodline Ends Here” features percussive thuds, the closest thing to percussion on the release, giving the track more of a presence. Elsewhere, “Traumatized By This New Reality” brings the bellowed vocals, buried under an ocean of reverb, to the forefront. Even a casual listener will be able to identify the glut of ideas and experimentations that this album develops.

A lot of drone has an organic quality, so it’s refreshing to find something with similar aims that sounds more compressed and processed. As metal listeners, it’s easy to trace similar themes between the genres this release engages with. Ensuring the Bloodline Ends Here sounds like Godflesh trapped down a mine shaft, but it’s a little more constructed than typical thirty-minute ambient compositions. Drone fans will identify with the atmospheres and the immersive soundscapes; an obvious comparison is Sunn O))), whose followers will find this a little more controlled and precise.

Unsettling and confrontational, Ensuring the Bloodline Ends Here is a good album for metal fans looking for something a little off the beaten track, or as an introduction to dark ambient material. Gridfailure are unlikely to be on your party banger playlist, but they’d be an ideal soundtrack to exploring an abandoned factory with a migraine. For a band named after failure, that’s pretty firm success.

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