What do you get if you mix Eyehategod (Mike IX Williams), Neurosis (Scott Kelly), Yakuza (Bruce Lamont), Minsk and Nachtmystium (Sanford Parker) together? The answer is, Corrections House who have managed to make around 50 minutes of highly experimental/acoustic/spoken word music with Last City Zero. While the band dislike the term “supergroup” with their respective musical heritages you’d be hard pushed not to tag the band with this label.
If nothing else Corrections House couldn’t be accused of playing it safe. This is an outfit that while being cut from a similar musical cloth certainly head out in any number of different directions to what I was expecting. In Last City Zero they have created an intellectual, unfeasibly variegated fusion of powerful disintegration, moody idiosyncrasies, and rhythmical decomposition which is more than the sum of its parts.
Mike IX Williams takes on vocal duties and manages to create a sound which is simultaneously both sorrowful and powerful, Bruce Lamont also provides some vocals but primarily generates all manner of effects including the occasional blast or two on his sax, Scott Kelly crunches away at his guitar riffs and last (but not least) Sanford Parker dishes out even more effects, as well as assimilating electronics and percussion into the overall mix.
Throughout the album there is a perpetual undercurrent of baleful melody. The pace and time signatures fluctuate allowing the songs time to intermingle with the individual musical contributions. Each track merges sounds, noises and electronics to generate an ominous atmosphere. These range from stark, minimalist drone to Americana folk, to post-metal/industrial. Sure the riffing is hard in all the right places but the guys have the intelligence to let the music expand into its own universe where necessary. Categorisation is practically impossible as the work from these musicians intentionally crashes together in an altogether unusual and surprising manner.
It took me some time to make a subtle distinction. The band should actually be considered to be more of a complex artistic undertaking; a project which incorporates a visual and also a spoken element too (check out the videos that the band have released to see what I mean). In fact at times the words are poetic in nature and the band seems to be composing songs in a manner which satisfies them first and then listener second.
The first track is ‘Serve or Survive’ and right from the get go you are exposed to the overwhelming bleakness. The electronics are uncomfortable, the vocals range between a murmur and a bark, with the angular riffs providing the groove (such as it is). The spirit of Neurosis and unbridled noise is channelled in ‘Party Leg and Three Fingers’ while “Run Through the Night’ uses an acoustic framework (with some atmospheric saxophone). This seems to initially out of place but it fits in well with the general aesthetic of the album.
It’s all change, once again with ‘Dirt Poor and Mentally Ill’. This, the last but one title song, is by far the strangest being a spoken word track. It asserts the wretchedness in the world with a simple guitar backing. The album closes with ‘Drapes Hung By Jesus’ which is back to the way the album started: ear jarring guitars and cataclysmic guitars and saxophones.
So in summary, Correction House is definitely a band that should be checked out, but before you do keep an open mind and be prepared for a challenge. Clearly what’s being offered here is a brave experiment and it does not surpass any of the work the contributors have made with the the bands you would traditionally associate them with. However, while Last City Zero is difficult to get your mind wrapped round and while this may put people off it’s encouraging that bands like Corrections House exist, pushing the boundaries and trying something new.