Album: Pulmonary Failure – EP
As a third year medical student, I get tasked with a lot of “odd jobs,” ranging from the reasonable to the irrational. Some—are much more the former, like reading up on disease process X or Y and presenting it the following day to a group of people who already know all about it—they just want to make sure I did my homework, so to speak. At this point I’ve presented on autoimmune demyelinating syndromes, opiate pharmacology, more ass and anal canal pathology than I care to list, and the list goes on—so, when I thought I would be addressing Pulmonary Failure as a third year medical student, I definitely didn’t think I would be doing so in a review for a tremendously talented British Deathcore project.
But here I am.
Pulmonary Failure is as insidious and crushing as its name might imply. Monasteries—who have remained fairly silent in the years since their debut effort—are back with what stands to send 2018 out with a real bang. Laden with blistering breakdowns, insane leads and sections of brutality that defy verbal description, Pulmonary Failure might have what it takes to upset quite a few deathcore fanatic album-of-the-year-lists just as the people writing them think they have it all figured out.
Instrumentally, Monasteries build upwards and outwards from a platform of pure deathcore (not to be confused with the defunct promotional service which is notably less cool). Songs like “Oxygen Debt” and “Force-Fed Apathy” are among the most straightforward, with percussionist Daniel Hill setting the pace for the tracks as bassist Sam Mitchell follows, adding heft and density to every monstrous breakdown and punishing groove. Then, there is “Baphomet Eyes,” the album’s raunchy, ear-grabbing opener. “Baphomet Eyes” stands as the EP’s truly stellar instrumental cut—with guitarists Aaron Wright and Ben Standley going absolutely insane from start to end. On one hand, the song remains thick and heavy—a dripping, still-kicking slab of meat—but with technical flair that stands to appeal to fans of deathcore’s more extreme reaches. Standley and Wright go out of their way to add panache to “Baphomet Eyes,” and by extension, Pulmonary Failure, early on—so when it strikes again, the listener is accustomed to it. The EP goes on like this—balancing moments of tightly-knit technical expertise with straight-up belligerent brutality, striding a fine line until the closing minutes of “Black Mass,” where it all goes to Hell. I can’t pretend to have listened to everything that came out in 2018 (although I like to think I gave it a good shot), but you could very easily convince me that the closing seconds of “Black Mass” are among the most insanely heavy things to have come out this year. With a guitar tone that practically drowns the listener in sludge and drumming that is slow and trudging like a mammoth’s gait, “Black Mass” is the way to bring this beast of a release to a close.
Just as Pulmonary Failure is a monstrous instrumental undertaking, it sees Monasteries welcoming new frontman Josh Davies into the fold. With big boots to fill and an impressive instrumental backdrop to live up to, Davies’ deck was stacked against him, in a sense, to deliver—but boy, he delivered. Davies’ work throughout Pulmonary Failure is nothing short of breathtaking (probably literally, in his case, given some parts of “Black Mass.”) Many of the cuts—well, really all of them—see Davies’ vocals hitting an absurd variety of styles and depths, with grisly lows abundant on “Black Mass” and “Baphomet Eyes” in combination with the harsh mid-range yells and high-pitched shrieks that make “Force-Fed Apathy” a vocal stand-out. While, in some respects, Monasteries don’t necessarily see themselves separating from the pack where lyrics and lyrical themes are concerned, there is a pleasantly nostalgic, 2008-2010 vibe to many of the lines throughout Pulmonary Failure (see, again, “Force-Fed Apathy”) which give it appeal to those more inaugurated into the genre’s nuances and history. Otherwise, it is a lyrically solid outing with otherwise superb vocal work that gives it a razor-sharp edge to cut through a great bulk of the band’s competition.
Pulmonary Failure isn’t the lecture on end-stage COPD or genetic anti-trypsin deficiency I would have expected to follow such a title—but it’s just as interesting (to me) and much more interesting (to literally everyone else), not to mention ten thousand times heavier. With groove, aggression, shred and brutality all weighing in with equal parts, Pulmonary Failure is a devastating deathcore release that demands attention before those year-end lists are wrapped up.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Job For a Cowboy (Doom), Bound in Fear, Distant, Drifted
By: Connor Welsh