Music is, for the most part, an attempt to elicit emotion through sound. The unusual thing is, that the music’s surface emotion and the emotion it actually elicits are often opposed. Sad pop songs make people feel comfort in knowing that other people feel the same way. Viciously angry metal makes me smile. And Author And Punisher makes me feel excited, even though the most obvious emotion the music should provoke is the dizzy, sickened feeling of trying to get to sleep when you’re drunk. The sludgey, industrial punishment on their new album Melk En Honing is a mix of what you’d expect from industrial doom and some more unexpected elements: it’s nasty, disquieting and damn good listening.
Author And Punisher are all in on the industrial sound. The sounds comprising most of the music are completely alien, unrecognizable as anything resembling a musical instruments. It feels like it has been constructed from the aural footprint of a factory: sirens for synths, buzzsaws for guitars, great clanging presses as drums. The only thing close to an element in common with normal music is the vocalist’s voice and even there his performance is tinged with the harsh edge of a drill boring into your skull. There’s an implied violence to the tone of the music, as though if you reached into the great musical machine you would be pulled in, chewed up, and spit out. You can taste the steel and concrete. The relentless grimness of the background noise makes for rough listening, but it is also compelling. There’s an anticipation to wondering where the tone will go next, and what tool the industrial band will select next from their varied selection. The new tricks they use in each song help keep the album interesting throughout even as the tone descends into the depths of some hellish foundry.
The doom side of things is also well executed, leaving the listener’s poor sanity to bear the weight of a crushing darkness. The beats follow the draining sluggishness of funeral doom, like the music’s pulse could stop at any time. The grim slowness leaves time for the atmosphere to really get under your skin, and builds anticipation for the next movement of the glacially evolving, sick musical animal.. The vocals, when not a pained roar, follow an equally troubling chanting, suggesting an almost religious devotion. The music never takes a moment to wink. Instead it looks you dead in the eye, unblinking as it spits out each chapter in its tale of misery. Similarly, the riffs, or musical movements, or whatever you’re supposed to call the collected sounds of the wasteland, are harrowing affairs, dragging from point to point like a tired zombie, with just enough little hooks to keep the listener engaged. Author And Punisher pull off quite a balancing act, music just a little more coherent than ambient, but much less so than the musical standard.
Melk En Honing is a trip, and while I can’t recommend it for a day in the park with the family, it’s definitely something you should experience. Alone and in the dark preferably. Given even a two minute taste, the album’s industrial strangeness makes it impossible to turn away. To this end, opening track Barge is embedded below, and the entire album can be found on Author And Punisher’s Bandcamp.