Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Internal Void-Unearthed; Southern Lord, 2000

What does light mean to you? Does the way an environment's light falls effect your perception of music? Disaster Amnesiac finds these questions to be relevant while enjoying Internal Void's incredible offering from 2000, Unearthed. It goes back to listening to music during the 1980's, mostly as I tooled around the suburbs of Northern Virginia in a beat up Datsun with a functioning tape deck. There were times, especially in autumn, when hues of the sunlight and their attendant falling upon the environment would mesh with music in  a sublime perfection. Over the ensuing years, Disaster Amnesiac has often felt those same feelings when I hear bands the unique sounds of Maryland Heavy Rock, as practiced by Internal Void, Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and others. There is just something about the way that the groups that come out of that scene shape their melodies and harmonies that evokes the light of the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., at least for me.
Those kinds of "insights", obviously purely subjective, may not translate well into a good review, so please allow Disaster Amnesiac to try and be a bit more objective as I attempt to enthuse about how great an album Unearthed is.
First off, guitarist Kelly Carmichael utilizes such great, heavy tones within this set of tunes. Opener With Apache Blood kicks things off, showing his melodic strength before turning into some bruising riff crushes. It sounds as if he put a lot of work in to getting a really sweet tone, perfectly fuzzed but still clear and focused. This action continues on tracks like Pint Of Love and Too Far Gone, as Carmichael puts the lessons of Iommi and Weinrich to great use. Disaster Amnesiac is fascinated by his Allman-flavored sweetness on In A Bit Of Jam, and figures that Kelly is the kind of guitar player that would be well appraised of Dicky Betts' love of Charlie Parker, and be conversant with them, too. Within the Heavy Rock form, there's just no excuse for underdone guitar playing. On Unearthed, Carmichael is seriously cooking.
Obviously, a Rock band also needs a moving, breathing rhythm section, and Internal Void was certainly blessed with one at the time of Unearthed in Adam S. Heinzmann on bass and Ronnie Kalimon on drums. The latter  puts on a veritable clinic in Rock drumming. He's heavily involved in all of the arrangements, and just slays on tunes such as Blindside, Chapter 9, and Beyond Anger, to name just a few. This involvement is always grounded in superior time keeping, and it's simply amazing. The total kick ass drumming on the album alone is worth the price of admission. Listen and marvel. Heinzmann does not slouch on top of his battery mate's chops; the way that he bridges the drums to the guitar riffs has all of the physical push and pull that's necessary with the approach to Heavy Rock. His harmonies with Carmichael's riffs is so sweet: listen closely to With Apache Blood.
Internal Void singer JD Williams utilizes all of the talent emanating from the instrumentalists within the band as a launch pad for a fine performance of his own, delivering lyrics that are Doom'ed, wry, definitely on the darker side, but that never come across as despairing. Knowing is a good way to describe them; fully aware of, and seemingly effected by, the "permanent down" that Bill Ward mentioned, but never submitting to the darkness. His vocal tones, somewhat reedy alto mostly but at times gutturally slung out, fit in with these moods, musical and lyrical, perfectly. Disaster Amnesiac always marvels at his delivery on Too Far Gone and Chapter 9, but, as they say, it's all good throughout.
Time passes: Unearthed is almost twenty years old. Light fades: as Disaster Amnesiac peers out the window this evening, the sun sets, its waning light coloring the sky over the SF Bay in an orange hue, somewhat reminiscent of similar ones seen on freaked out late afternoon drives in doomed Prince William County. Heaviness endures: snag a copy of this great record from Internal Void and hear that for yourself. 

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