Album: In Retrospect
You were born with a weight on your shoulders. From the very second you squirmed your way out of your mothers womb, you were burdened—like an ox or a mule amongst the humans of this world—with a weight set snugly around your neck. This weight, however, is unlike anything else on this planet. At first, it was, well, weightless—defined by your very purity, kept afloat by every ounce of innocence you had by virtue of sheer ignorance of this world and its evils. But from your very first breath, that weight began to settle more and more firmly across your back, and tightened ever so slightly around your neck, starting a slowly sifting hourglass where each grain of sand is one less breath you have before your spine collapses and your lungs give way under the mounting mass of life—a weight best characterized by the boundless heaviness displayed on In Retrospect, the debut full length from Californian crushers, Submissioner. Attacking the listener with nothing but the densest and most relentless infusion of beatdown and deathcore there is, Submissioner places a yolk of pure lead around the listener’s neck and forces them on a death march which will assuredly force the listener to falter beneath its weight.
It was maybe around ten or eleven years old you realized you were different from the other kids you knew—the kids who always spent their time with others, laughing and playing. You, on the other hand, saw in nothing shades of dark grey—there was no light or warmth in a summer day—no joy in companionship, no happiness to be had in others. This crushing, brooding feeling of sheer isolation is akin to the crushing and brooding instrumentation that drives In Retrospect along its warpath. Submissioner use unimaginably deep and crushing tuning along with heavy, beefy drum tones to create an atmosphere that invades the listener’s lungs and settles in them like cement. From the initial onslaught in “Nostalgia” to the last, waning seconds of “Resulting Condition,” there is nothing light or ethereal about the bands instrumentation. Even the rare seconds of high-fretted riffing in “Mind Ripper” or sections of catchy technicality in “Medicated Me” are nothing but absolutely crushing. However, while the instrumentation is constantly aggressive, dark and dense, it is far from boring or monotonous. Submissioner prove themselves as masters of misanthropic, merciless brutality by making each song stand out on its own—both instrumentally and vocally—a feat especially hard to accomplish considering the album’s impressive 50-plus minute runtime.
By the time you had reached your twenties, the shades of muted and modeled grey you’d grown accustomed to living in had expanded to accompany both crimson red and pitch black. More and more you felt your back wither beneath this innate weight fixed firmly to your spinal column. More than you had grown sick of it, the few friends and family you’d managed to keep in your life were driven away by your constant bitterness. You managed to cut yourself completely out of society—leaving you severed completely, a scrap of barely-sane flesh floating in the wind. While the brooding, beastly percussion and monstrous, muddy guitar tone wear away at the listener’s sanity, venomous, vicious vocals tear gaping gashes in their skin. In Retrospect is home to a varied and volatile vocal assault the likes of which is uncharacteristic given the band’s penchant for the low-and-slow style of beatdown-tinted-deathcore they claim as their own. “Mind Ripper,” for example, features a cavalcade of different vocal ranges which keep the listener not just engaged, but actively perched on the edge of their seat, wondering what form of screech or bellow will send them reeling next. Likewise, “Positively Negative” and “Dissolve” use everything from an acidic scream to a ghastly guttural to tear away at the listener’s head, leaving nothing but scraps of sanity left—these same scraps of sanity which drift with the wind, cut completely by the acrid and acute edge of Submissioner’s vocal blade.
You weren’t sure you were going to make it to thirty. The combination of razor sharp bitterness and crushing, heavy solitude had driven you into a state of complete recluse. No friends, no family, no lover, no light—all you knew was the dark, grim grip of loneliness around your trachea—and that God forsaken weight hanging so heavily across your shoulders, even getting out of bed was a chore. After all—what was there to even get out of bed for? This is what Submissioner does to the listener. “Silent Preacher” and “Half Empty” are tracks so incessantly heavy that they floor the listener completely—only to sit like lead on their chest once they’ve been knocked down, making it impossible for them to rise. All the while, the vocals continue cutting notches in their skin, rending their flesh and spilling their blood like water. The simple fact is that, when it comes to music so raunchy and heavy that it feels almost torturous to endure, no band does it better than Submissioner. In Retrospect is a Hell so sublime that from the very second it locks the listener in, they are treated to fifty-some minutes of nothing but the most painful bliss imaginable. In Retrospect manages to span nearly an hour, with nothing but pure, dense anger that—somehow—manages to avoid monotony and boredom completely.
You died the same way you spent the vast majority of your life: unremarkably and alone. There was no funeral—no service, no notice to your family—just a cold pine box in a hillside somewhere. Life wore down on you and shredded your shoulders to the bone until you simply couldn’t survive living under this immense weight anymore. Your body and your mind simply gave up. That is what Submissioner does to the listener—combining relentless, crushing heaviness with sections of lacerating speed and intense catchiness, In Retrospect will perch on their shoulders and wear away at them—picking at their sanity through their ears—until finally, they are forced to submit.
For Fans Of: Immoralist, Black Tongue, Towers, Legion, The Acacia Strain
By: Connor Welsh