Top 10 Albums of 2010, Number 9: haarp, The Filth

Though I’ve already hyped and reviewed The Filth, in compiling year-end lists I thought I should add some listening notes. Like The Filth is a single malt and you need to know the mouthfeel.

The record is defined by two odd/ inexplicable features.

One, vocals: imagine haarp as instrumental, then guess what kind of singer they’d have if you’d never heard theirs.

haarp is so bass-heavy, so pure low-end, with downpicked-not-sounded riffs that (very) rarely play anything but the open chords,  it seems as though the only option for a voice is a higher pitch, and melody.

It would’ve seemed boldly unrealistic to think you could find a vocal that could out-heavy the riffs and lurching rhythm.

And yet.

[Singer] Shaun has a chest the width of a truck tire (I saw haarp in June); he needs a resonance chamber that big to produce his consistent mid- and low-range throat blast. Go spin Deicide wax and put your thumb on the vinyl, until you’re at a quarter speed: you’ve got a fuzzy picture of The Filth.

Anomaly two: there’s barely any song structure; there’s definitely no verse/ chorus setup, and the only song with anything resembling a chorus is the next-to-last Plurimus Humilus, Ciacco*. The changes seem almost random, and the vocals start and stop and unpredictable times.

This is fascinating; the whole record could almost have been improvised. It demands repeat listens.

The Filth is as intense as black metal (but sounds nothing like it); it’s relaxing if you imagine it voicing the rages you’ve never properly expressed, the fury you’ve never put into words.

It rumbles like an approaching seismic event. haarp is an enormous boulder on the side of Everest: you never know when it will move again, or where it will stop– you just know when it gets going a lot of shit is going to get crushed.

 

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*An Inferno reference, in Latin no less.

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