By Lane Oliver
One of my most anticipated records of the year has finally fallen into my lap. The record in question is Gaza’s third full length, No Absolutes in Human Suffering. After two successfully punishing records, I was extremely anxious to see where the band would go next. With this eleven track, forty-three minute behemoth we see Gaza at the top of their game and onto something more vile and thought provoking than any heavy music release this year so far.
No Absolutes in Human Suffering begins with the first “single” released to the world, “Mostly Hair and Bones Now”. Chilling, ringing chords open up this track and convey a feeling of dread and tension. Then the track explodes in pure chaotic hardcore fashion with this deliciously malevolent riff composed of dissonant noisy chords. Topped off with intense drumming and Jon Parkin’s angry, pain stricken roars from hell, this track will absolutely frighten and pound your skull into submission. Which is something Gaza have been known to do best. The track also provides an intro into the wonderful world of Kurt Ballou’s production capabilities. If it wasn’t apparent at the beginning of this track, this is the best sounding Gaza record to date. The guitars sound much more “beefed” up and a lot more audible as well as the rest of the instruments. But I digress. The songs themselves are more dissonant and hard hitting this time around. Some of the riffs on this thing, like the crawling chaos that is “Not With All the Hope in the World”, recall to the way some of the riffs were presented on I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die. Songs like “Not With All the Hope in the World”, “This We Celebrate”, “The Vipers”, etc, throw out these monstrously frightening dissonant and noisy chord progressions that feel like a beast out of some Lovecraftian novel is burrowing into your skull and cooking methamphetamine in your brain. These horrifying, extremely heavy riffs should be commended for their malevolence and extreme complexity. Casey Hansen’s ungodly complex drumming should be noted as well for making these tracks that much more intense and angry. But when the band isn’t smashing your brain with complexity, they are smashing your brain with intense hardcore grooves. “The Crown’s” main riff attacks you with sludgy, crusty hardcore grooves and mechanical like harmonics. The track is heavy as a bulldozer but oddly catchy as well. I can guarantee you will be mimicking the main riff with your hums soon enough. The album’s title track also has an equally intoxicating sludge-like groove riff that is sure to stick to your brain like peanut butter. Another thing worth noting about this album is the band’s newfound sense of melodicism. There were melodic moments on each of Gaza’s releases, but here they brought them more to the forefront. The end of “This We Celebrate”, while heavy, features these soaring melodic chords that soak the track in a feeling of triumph. A real beautiful melodic moment (Gaza? Beautiful? Strange right?) is the end of the album’s final track “Routine and Then Death”. After the song is finished demolishing your stereo with low grumbling doomy riffs, the guitar switches to a clean setting for some simple descending, melodic and melancholic scales. Then the full band comes back in and creates this huge wall of sound type of feel that washes over the listener and brings some sort of peaceful resolution to all of the chaos that came before this track. Thanks to Kurt Ballou’s killer production and the band’s enhanced writing skills, this is Gaza’s best record to date. Period.
There are a few things I didn’t care for. But they are mostly nitpicky things. “No Absolutes in Human Suffering” is a great song but it can get a little repetitive because it revolves around one riff the entire time. But it doesn’t stop me from rocking out to it. I also didn’t care for the abrupt change into the melodic tapping riff in “When They Beg”. I just feel the transition was a little abrupt. But regardless, the song still rips.
No Absolutes in Human Suffering is Gaza’s crowning achievement to date. They took elements of each of their previous efforts, melded them together and then tortured them to death. No Absolutes drips with hellish intent, destruction, hate, beauty and of course originality. This is definitely the heavy record of the year so far. Be sure to check it out.
Label: Black Market Activities
Release Date: July 31st, 2012
Favorite Tracks: “Mostly Hair and Bones Now”, “The Truth Weighs Nothing”, “Not With All the Hope in the World”, “The Crown” and “Skull Trophy”.
For Fans of: Converge, Botch, Bone Dance and The Secret.