Alright, let me begin by stating that in my opinion, this is one of the albums you could 100% enjoy only in a live show setting.
This Florence-based band is a duo, guitar (plus vocals) and drums only, and being on the hardcore-sludgey side of things, you can instinctively tell it is a quite impact-based project more than an elaborate, meticulous baroque artform.
So please, if you intend to give a decent spin to this record, give it some breath. Have some air moving, you’ll need some sound pressure. Blast it, may be on your hi-fi stereo of choice, on some studio monitors, or at least crank it through some decent headphones, but do it. Crank that volume up.
I’ve seen the band live and I can easily ensure you that it’s hard to beat the feeling of an overdriven Sunn amplifier pushed at decent volume, pummeling at your chest from a 4×12 just a few meters away with its grainy, boomy and overly bassy distortion. Being the atmosphere of the album to me quite entirely based on its heaviness and physicality, well I think you can now get my advice: I would like you to at least get a substitute to that experience.
The musicianship is not top-notch here, but that’s not a critique. You can see it’s just two people mainly playing for fun and to give an outfit to their love for the genre, also I suppose them to be the ones behind the Florentine underground label Dio Drone))), even if that’s not explained . Given the productiveness of their business, that would completely justify their average chops, at least if I’m not mistaken in my suppositions. Well hey, no one would sport a tattoo of an underground label for nothing…
The occasional sloppiness in the playing even adds to the sense on paranoia and anxiety given by the soundscape, at least that’s my personal perception. I guess it’s a good thing, again we’re nonetheless not speaking about some virtuoso stuff here but just of the final product given by a straightforward sonic abuse. Not much to be picky on, folks, I don’t care really.
“L’Anno Dell’Odio” (The Year of Hate) is the debut album by the pitch black-clothed, Italian hooded duo Hate & Merda (Hate & Shit) which refers at itself as the couple “Un-necessary 1” and “Un-necessary 2”. This stage antic came to me as a smart move. It is nice to see some people deliberately stating something among the lines of “look, you shouldn’t be caring about me and my image, but just about my music”. They actually never want to show their faces in any press photo too. Paradoxically, that could be seen as a “band image” marketing move by itself but hey, anything is at the end of the day and let’s appreciate the message for what it is!
Also their name Hate & Merda was casually born from a spoof on the H&M clothing line name, and could also come as a sort of anti-corporate joke. The band doesn’t take itself too seriously, their seemingly try-hard nihilistic attitude on press releases almost acts as a self-conscious parody of many hardcore and metal bands.
On to the actual music. As hinted above, the album is mainly based on a sludge\hardcore canvas. Raw screams accompany noisy guitars and straightforward drums.
Above all of that, and to bring some relief to the violent chugging, the band creates ambient breakdowns and chill soundscapes with the aid of noises, sound effects and spoken word recordings while taming the instrumentation back to soft and minimal arrangement, creating then nice dynamics and pathos which make the return to the unforgiving riffs even more hard hitting.
The album opens with “Ascoltare Con Dolore / Carne Gotica”, creating tension with its repetitive riffs and feedback noises. “Pioggia Di Cicatrici E Sogni Negati” follows up with a similar structure and some more dissonance.
Ambient passages begin to emerge with “Pietà”, when the initial heavy riffing floats into a quite psychedelic, reverberant static chord progression from which a recorded spoken word passage emerges.
“L’Eternità Di Un’Estate Terribile” brings similar meditative tones, on which the singer lays some spoken word before engaging a feedback explosion, which finally resolves in outro riffing before fading away in another clean break. Both spoken words carry nihilistic lyrical themes: in the first one, a woman doesn’t see any more purpose in her life and desires to be dead. In the latter mentioned track, a man in a depressed state isolates himself from reality and is living a morbid, self-deceiving obsession, wandering up and down the city streets without any relief.
The closer “Veglia Di Condoglianza” is overall the longest track, totaling for about 9 minutes, as well as the only entirely ambient one, also featuring clouded choirs amongst other sounds.
The overall lo-fi production adds to the character of the recordings. I don’t actually have a favorite track, again since in my opinion this album would be better enjoyable not much as an ensemble of songs rather than as a physical experience in a live setting. If I really had to choose, I’d go for the more dynamic ones, namely “L’Eternità…” and “Pietà”.
A nice work from the duo if you enjoy the genre. I hope for more to come!
- Ascoltare Con Dolore / Carne Gotica
- Pioggia Di Cicatrici E Sogni Negati
- L’Eternità Di Un’Estate Terribile
- Veglia Di Condoglianza