Wolf Eyes - Always Wrong
Hospital Productions
Noise, Industrial
7 songs (31:00)
Release year: 2009
Hospital Productions
Reviewed by Goat

Most sane people tend to avoid the genre of Noise, it being literally a noisy racket that rarely makes much sense unless you're in a very prickly mood indeed. Wolf Eyes are one of the harsher "bands" in the subgenre, making over one hundred releases of terrifyingly unnerving noise, and Always Wrong, as a random example of their sound (which I'll confess to not being familiar with) makes for an interesting, if painful listen. I'm a fan of Drone and the like from the extreme end of the Doom genre, Sunn O)) 's brand of sonic slowness being especially close to my heart, but this isn't music slowed down so much as pounded into a weapon, the shrieking discord of Industrial machines dying and giving messy rebirth to creatures altogether weirder.

Apparently this is quite tuneful for a Wolf Eyes release, the relatively clear vocals on the first track or so soon giving way to the sort of high-pitched screeching of Pretending Alive and others. Cellar especially, buzzing like an enraged insect with spasmodic beats in the background and almost drunken-sounding vocals, is like Tom Waits having a slow-motion fight with a kitchen appliance, frantic clashings and rumblings vanishing as randomly as they appear. To be honest, it sort of makes my teeth grind, the music (let's just assume it is music and leave that debate for another time) acting as the ultimate stimulant, as nervous, twitchy and unsettled as a junkie going cold turkey in a police cell.

If this all sounds like your idea of a personal hell (those who already detest Drone for its lack of accessibility should run screaming) then you're getting the idea, as that's pretty much the point. I can't believe that normal, happy people generally listen to this sort of music unless they want to be punished, or because they've been influenced by unhinged friends who genuinely believe that this is good music - me personally, I'd much rather have some nice Prog Rock on that this sort of horrific noise, but that's why I chose to review this now, in this frame of mind, so it would be as abrasive as possible.

From my reading online, devotees of this sort of thing have declared Always Wrong a masterpiece of wrongness, one even comparing it in musical terms to the genius of Jazz legend John Coltrane, a comparison I find to be borderline psychotic, but as much as I want to dismiss Wolf Eyes as mindless, random noise, I can't - there is quite clearly a brain at work behind the madness, and the more listens I withstand the more I recognise a kind of structure to the insanity at play. Trying to explain it as "the sound of a dying star" or "the birth of an alien mothership" sort of does the job, and it indeed helps if you try to visualise things like that whilst listening. If someone was to make some sort of modern Paranormal Activities or [REC]-esque horror film based around alien abduction, it would make a great soundtrack, juddering onscreen at the moments of true horror to add to the chaotic punch of the scary moments - looked at from that perspective, Always Wrong's chief failure is actually a lack of dynamics, avoiding calmer moments in favour of either turning the tap full on or off. They could take a lesson from Sunn O))) in that regard, at least.

Ultimately, I can imagine less than 5% of the readership here taking anything from this review but the notation of a band name to avoid at all costs - I myself, after a few listens, can do nothing but shrug my shoulders and say that it's probably worth sticking with for the relatively light hum of finale Droll/Cut The Dog alone, an unnervingly restrained finale to a powerful musical experience which grips the listener as much as it repulses them. If you choose to listen to this, you've earned my respect for open-mindedness, if my astonishment at anyone who claims to fathom what is, essentially, designed to be unfathomable. I certainly doubt whether Always Wrong will find its way to my playlist again.

Killing Songs :
Cellar, Living Stone, Pretending Alive - sort of
Goat quoted 70 / 100
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