The Conceal Pull No Stunts
Monday, April 23, 2012 1 Comment
I’m not going to lie, I’m fighting off a massive hangover today. The only music existing in my media library that can supplement how shitty I feel is the debut release from San Jose natives The Conceal, entitled Endless River | Stunted Prayer, which just hit the internet like a cheap whiskey-infused dirty bomb last Monday. Since then, my ears have been giving it a lot of attention and I am enthusiastically impressed by this new act coming from the South Bay (aka that place where a bunch of bands try to sound like Dredg, Circa Survive, and anything Post-Rock).
The Conceal is a reboot of Flood Peak, headed by Mike McClatchey (ex-Clearing Autumn Skies, Apiary, Early Graves) that features a few down-tuned, slower rehashes of songs from Flood Peak’s EP Filling Flasks along with mostly new material. This being said, anyone expecting The Conceal to be anything like its former incarnation will be in for a big surprise. Endless River | Stunted Prayer is a 45 minute masterpiece of doom, sludge, feedback, and industrial influenced shit-rock that brings a refreshing sense of creativity to heavy music. There is no mimicry or trend-following here, only trendsetting.
What is most impressive to me is the fact that this band focused all of its time and energy into writing, recording (with nothing more than Garage Band), and releasing a full LP before playing a single live show. The end result is an honest album with no influences from the outside world; a dark, intense, concrete face-beating that holds no punches. From the swelling breakdowns on the opening track, “A Final Song,” through the six-minute epic, “Gutted Sons,” all the way to the doom-filled conclusion “The Waiting,” listeners will be treated to a boot up their ass in the most disturbing fashion.
I’m particularly a fan of the wide range of influences that shine through on this album; it’s not quite metal, not quite rock, not quite industrial, not quite doom…you get the picture? Every song has something of its own to offer, whether it’s mechanized-breakdowns (“Dust Breeder”), southern-influenced crust-rock (“Endless River | Stunted Prayer”), haunting, ear-piercing feedback (“Meandering”), or rich soundscapes (“Wishing Knell”). What you get is a timeless opus that has no regard for the typical fodder that floods much of the music scene today. Endless River | Stunted Prayer could have been written 15 years ago as much as it could have been written today.
From a production standpoint, this is not a pretty sounding album. This is as DIY as it gets. Whereas some people may perceive the lack of production to be a weakness of the album, I see it as a strength that lends itself to a real sense of texture. These are songs with feeling and no amount of production can enhance their uniqueness. I’m not one of those critics who harps on the production value of a record because I firmly believe great songwriting cannot be replaced or enhanced with studio magic. Would I have liked the vocals to be a little louder? Sure, but who gives a shit? Endless River | Stunted Prayer is a cohesive work of art in which no single aspect or instrument stands out too dominantly. The bass tones at times sound like they were ripped straight out of Motorhead’s playbook and ran through an HM-2, which is not a bad thing at all. The guitars are thin but atmospheric with great crunch and character. Also notable on this outing is the evolution of Jake Wright’s vocals since the Flood Peak days. What used to be blood gargled screams are now complimented with gritty singing and thought-provoking lyrics that complement the dirtiness of the album very well.
If you’re looking to go out of your comfort zone and listen to some very inspired music, then I highly recommend downloading a copy of Endless River | Stunted Prayer, which comes with a full set of album artwork and lyrics (a great package in the day of digital releases). It’s only $5 and you can stream the entire thing, so don’t be a cheap ass and download the album elsewhere…support the DIY scene!
The Conceal will be making their live debut at Red House Studios in Walnut Creek this Thursday (4/26) at 7:00PM. Check them out and get your ears wrecked!