The New World begins with a clarion squall: a guitar that sounds like a trumpet, signaling the end of the old. The sound brings to mind the walls of Jericho and the angel of Revelation. After the clarion repeats and subsides, a deathly calm settles in, a lighter electric strumming that may be coming from the world’s last amplifier, connected to a generator on a flatbed in the center of a post-apocalyptic desert.
Apocalyptic themes and titles are nothing new to A Death Cinematic; he’s been driving this lonesome road for years, eating scavenged peaches that have fallen behind the shelves of abandoned supermarkets. It’s not that he’s in love with the apocalypse or wants to see it happen. Instead, he views it as an inevitable occurrence waiting at the end of mankind’s current path: not a slaughter of angels, but a human-wrought catastrophe that has already been set in motion. The feedback drones that accompany his guitar may be the cloud that obscures clarity or the dust storm that visits as a result: a thickness that prevents reason, a dullness of mind, a smog that coats, weighs down and finally destroys all altruistic thought. Track titles such as “mountains choked with smoke, release the trees down their hillsides” and “as the lights fissure the night skies, our eyes grow pale at the horrors beheld” only add to the sense of lost vision.
The balsa wood box makes the release seem both old and enduring. In case of an actual apocalypse, it may be used as firewood, although it’s the last thing anyone would want to destroy. A photograph is tipped into the wood like a silhouette from a nuclear blast. A book of additional photographs, bleak and austere, sits quietly within the box, waiting to be removed like a corpse from a valuable coffin slated for reuse. The future may be stark, documented in this multi-media offering, but it is far more beautiful than our manufactured present.
The look of The New World is lonely and brown. The sound of The New World is desolate and sparse. But the scent of The New World is natural and keen, like something forgotten and found. (And when is the last time one noticed the scent of a CD?) The hand-stamped horse grows in shape page by page, its cross finally tipped with red on the final view. “Thou art the hopes slain at the hands of our enterprise”, the back cover proclaims. But for actual lyrics, one needs to reach the closing track.
Matt Finney‘s weary voice arrives as a jolt, even when one is expecting it: the first trace of humanity on a release that is ironically personal. As the culmination of all that has preceded it, the title track gathers up the gravel: the anger, the frustration, the sense of giving up. The lyrics bear remnants of the Occupy movement, acknowledging that the size of one’s indignation is seldom proportionate to the results of one’s protest.
And so, we slink home. We sink into our couches to watch the broadcast networks, to be lulled into dispassion. We eject the CD. And the angel draws nearer. And the trumpet is raised to his lips. (Richard Allen)