Hallways of the Always - A Masturbatory Aid for the Enthusiastically Violent
New York native Dave Anthony has the kind of single-minded innovation necessary to turn Hallways of the Always into a success. As a one-man death/grind project, my expectations concerning A Masturbatory Aid for the Enthusiastically Violent (henceforth referred to as AMAFTEV) were pretty low. After all, the commonplace complexity of death and/or grind as metal subgenres requires the utmost musical talent and complexity in playing it, not to mention a properly formed identity. Thankfully, Hallways of the Always has it all, and AMAFTEV is overall a savagely good time.
The reasons for this surprising level of quality are many. First of all, Anthony is a talented musician. The man's riffs are crunchy, full of groove, and highly contagious---the stuff as catchy as SARs in downtown Beijing. Like a killer on the run forced to change identities again and again, Anthony employs a wide range of vocal disguises the likes of which betray enormous range and versatility. Best of all, AMAFTEV is violently determined to do two things (that aforementioned single-minded purpose I spoke of); these two things being a) brutally rape one's ears, and b) tear down the pillars of a diseased society via clever, original song-writing. In these two arenas AMAFTEV never once wavers, and the end result is an album that is miles above plenty of signed material I've heard in the last year.
The sound I speak of is a unique combination of several seemingly incomprehensible sources. The stomach-churning social commentary and blitzkrieg song lengths of Napalm Death are the first obvious influence; other inspirations are a bit harder to pin down. Anthony has barking vocals equally similar to Jeremy Jasta from Hatebreed and Brian Fair of Shadows Fall, and his project's frequent use of jarring industrial beats and disgusting samples harkens to older Fear Factory and Red Harvest for their mechanical, robotic tones. The icing on the cake is the man's unique, twisting riffs, the likes of which feature utterly rocking grooves which never have serious proclivity for the mainstream. The only other death metal band I can think of with such catchy accessibility to their swinging haymaker riffs is the martial-arts outfit of Dim Mak. To sum it up, this is pretty streamlined stuff with plenty of meat hooks that will sink with blunt-force trauma into one's cranium, and chances are every second will prove enjoyable.
In keeping with the grind aesthetics I spoke of earlier, "Longevity" immediately comes out of the gate with murderous intent and goes straight for the jugular. The song is a pissed-off, swirling circle-pit of sound, its shove-or-be-shoved frenzy acting as an excellent start to AMAFTEV. "Wet Nightmare Part 1" kicks off a freaky trilogy of instrumental electronica; this song features whispered samples and skittering, nervous beats that are the height of insectoid paranoia. "Rubber Woman" runs over listeners with all the sentimentality of a steamroller accident and just about as much blood. The tempos shift in-and-out of mid-paced, pulverizing groove and back to slower, scream-along beatings. "Memoirs of a Streetwalker" is one of the album's best; its hammer-and-chisel beats soon being swallowed whole by massive, angry riffs. Out of this mechanical construction come homicidal swathes of violence perfectly contrasted with sludge-soaked moments of uneasy calm. "Secret Handshake" kicks off with a maddeningly fun chord progression only to spiral out into a rabid dog with plenty of malicious bite. Its polar opposite resides in "Crushing," which opts to go the way of titanic, dissonant chug and unnerving groove.
If one thinks that's scary, check out "Wet Nightmare Part 2." Mixing industrial beats that sound a bit too happy with some pornographic/fetish sampling, the song feels really dirty and carries an overall tone of vulgarity. "A Small Town in Purgatory" erases this with a smashing set of balls-to-wall death riffs and the debut of Anthopny's shamanistic clean vocals. When added to thick, swaying riffs, the overall effect is one of surreal, hypnotic urgency, and it works wonders. "Trapped in a Dark Room" is based off an unusual, clicking melody that will definitely stick to listeners like stink on a sewer-rat, but besides that, this is just pure destruction, plain and simple. "Death is Her Life" features a low-end, chest-rattling resonance that Immolation has done well for a while now, but with a bit more grind influence. "Wet Nightmare Part 3" wraps up the trio of sorts with a noisy rambling mess of zipping beeps and somber proclamations. "The Madness" enters the fray with a modern death groove every bit as much Meshuggah as it is Obituary, and then snakes through mathematical equations of harsh guitar pinches and mentally-disturbed sing-songs. "The Candy Factory" begins with a sample from Peter Jackson's cult zombie hit Brain Dead and proceeds to inflict every bit as much ultra-violence with what is the aural equivalent of a New York City mugging.
A Masturbatory Aid for the Enthusiastically Violent is a twenty-nine minute killing spree, the kind so deranged and psychotic that once it is done one can't be sure if it ever even happened. Mixing cynicism, tense social paranoia, and clutching misanthropy, AMAFTEV is so surreal in its insanity that the whole blood-drenched nightmare seems like it could be recurring. Therein lays the joy; just when one thinks this short, wicked little nightmare is over, it has only just begun.
Hallways of the Always' A Masturbatory Aid for the Enthusiastically Violent
2. Wet Nightmare Part 1
3. Rubber Woman
4. Memoirs of a Streetwalker
5. Secret Handshake
7. Wet Nightmare Part 2
8. A Small Town in Purgatory
9. Trapped in a Dark Room
10. Death is Her Life
11. Wet Nightmare Part 3
12. The Madness
13. The Candy Factory