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A Sickness Unto Death : The Great Escape

You owe it to yourselves to explore A Sickness Unto Death's Gothic-tinged Epic sophomore.

Fragile and delicate, yet perilous and at times treacherous, A Sickness Unto Death's 2nd studio album is a recording you could easily dismiss for its apparently, misleadingly mundane façade; numerous listening sessions (and I mean NUMEROUS, like a dozen sessions at least) might turn your world upside down.

While you were 'sleeping' so-to-speak, the music has been busy carving a route within your soul, like a small canyon that is a result of a persevering flux of musical (emotional) gushing waters ploughing their undeniable way through rock and strata.

'The Great Escape' is as elusive an album as the picture adorning the album's cover may suggest; parts of a barbed wire fence gently transforming into flying birds; a simple yet ingenious illusion: are these birds, flying metal wires, either or neither? Same question raises in regards to this album: Is it Doom metal of the Epic kind with Thrash and Power metal innuendos? Or is it a gentle (easy listening) Gothic rock album with an occasional rougher metallic edge? Is this album about love? About hate? An indictment for the human kind or an offering of solace and hope? To each their own, for this album offers no definite answers, neither musically nor philosophically.

As much as one could easily dismiss 'The Great Escape' as a non-impressive effort, so can one regard this album a life-changing experience – it's that much loaded with dichotomy and ambivalence. Give it though some time, and I do sincerely hope you will love it as much as I do, for all the right and all the wrong reasons.

This unique album's beauty can only match its habitual moments; moments in time where the band almost nail the perfect tune, yet that very infinitesimal 'almost' renders the tune rather rehashed and dispassionate. Then comes this epic wave of beauty, melancholy, soul-searing sadness coupled with a force to match, and suddenly it all becomes one big fucking goosebumps-engine, a nuclear reactor for the sentiments, a ride of a lifetime, the ultimate sonic experience.

The better tracks comprising the album appear toward the second half of it, the weakest track ironically is the opening theme-song 'The Great Escape', but even that one contains some remarkable powerful maneuvers. Despite the strong rhythm section and the robust guitar-work and general safe yet extremely efficient and intelligent sonic architecture, the absolute driving force of A Sickness Unto Death's music is Tim Ziegeler's phenomenal vocals; velvety, warm, angry baritone the likes of which are rare and far between. 'The Great Escape' contains no harsh vocals (well, almost), only the harshness of a choir of broken hearts, broken dreams, loneliness, the ghosts of disaster (like the track 'Concrete Lake' hinting at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster) singing a-capella style, lamenting; it's a sentimental album full of drama and longing for a better life without being too melodramatic or ridiculous. I do hope you catch this album's drift and don't be swift with your uneducated judgement.

'The Great Escape' is a patchwork of amazing moments and lukewarm ones; the amazing ones ('Judgement' or 'Purgatory' for instance) rip through space and time, tying up nostalgia, sentimentalism, the current state of human existence and a sense of foretelling the future, allowing the listener a fleeting glimpse into it, the bleak future of us all, engineered solely by our own follies, our petty desires and evils, our basic faulty structure. As a Doom metal band (well, sort of), A Sickness Unto Death tells us about our doom (not gloating though, just telling a sad story full of compassion and tragedy), and you can feel it in this album's every sonic bone.

Someone, somewhere, sometime surely had said that even the most lousy blowjob he had ever endured was still amazing; well, the lukewarm moments on 'The Great Escape' are like that -- not the blowjob part, but the amazing part. Even in those moments where the band didn't decide whether they are a Rock or a Metal band; an Epic Doom or a Power metal band; a Gothic rock band or an ethereal rock assembly, where the songwriting reveals its weakest points -- it's still a treat for the ears, an emotional burden, a roller-coaster of acute melancholy and refined grace.

'The Great Escape' is like that perfect moment where everything stands still, the world disappears and all you're left with is this clarity of vision, witnessing a supernova of events and aspirations carve its path within you: birth, life, lovemaking, a suicidal urge and the bleak, inevitable conclusion that after all that's been said and done, and with all those billions around -- you are completely and utterly alone. Fuck, what a feeling! Both exquisitely empowering and infinitely depressing.

I know this metallic blend of styles and aesthetics, plus the unconventional vocal approach and the not-so-catchy songwriting (coupled with beyond-ear-friendly moments) scattered across the album's length (some of which may be eyebrow raisers for some and the epitome of cliché for others) may deter many of you from exploring this recording beyond an initial listening session, but an album such as this warrants multiple listening experiences for its content to glue to the listener's psyche. I really think this album is worth your effort and time exploring it, and furthermore – I think you owe this to yourselves.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. The Great Escape
2. Intoxicated
3. The Atonement Ship
4. Lost
5. The Concrete Lake
6. The Uniqueness Of Two
7. Prejudice
8. Judgement
9. Purgatory
10. Remains Of Misery

Duration : Approx. 62 minutes

Visit the A Sickness Unto Death bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-11-23 by Chaim Drishner
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