"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Pristina - "The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow)" (CD)

Pristina - "The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow)" CD cover image

"The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow)" track listing:

1. Moonshiner (8:37)
2. Because I Can Kill You v. 2 (4:59)
3. Salt Water Cthulhu (3:39)
4. Temple Of The Morning Star (5:05)
5. The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow) (22:56)

Reviewed by on September 25, 2010

"Similar to bands like Today Is The Day, Pristina refuses to be a stale, one-dimensional caricature, and the title track is proof of this mentality. "

Pristina’s debut album “The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow)” revolves around the ambitious 23-minute title track. That may sound like a task more reserved for a crafty progressive metal band than a metallic hardcore act, but Pristina is far beyond the scale of limited genre trappings. Similar to bands like Today Is The Day, Pristina refuses to be a stale, one-dimensional caricature, and the title track is proof of this mentality. It’s clear the band put a lot of time into this one track, but the four other ones are not just filler tossed in to make the EP a full-length. They each offer a different sonic direction that clash with each other to make for a reckless and unpredictable debut from Pristina.

The three shorter tracks are sandwiched by two epics that open and close the album. “Moonshiner” is a jaunt start that begins at a slow pace and speeds up to a frenzy that is interrupted by flourishes of acoustic splendor. The rhythm work is the standout, as the bass and drums are the driving force that keeps the song moving forward. Jagged screams from Brendan K. Duff echo in the desolate atmosphere that engulfs the track. The band does have a surprising amount of melody in their sound, but that does little to contain the decay and evil that lurks on the surface.

This mood slowly builds throughout the album until it is completely exposed on the title track. This monster features the expertise of guest vocalists Rennie Resmini (Starkweather), Steve Austin (Today Is The Day), and Scott Angelacos (Bloodlet). The first half is similar to “Moonshiner” in its aggressive temper and sickening aura, but the second half gets interesting. An awesome drum solo that seems more suited for an Iron Butterfly tune comes in and the track hits an intense high that never dissipates. The best part is saved for the last few minutes, as a forlorn acoustic piece leads into a clean section that ends things on a hopeful, yet dissonant, note.

Compared to the far-reaching nature of those two tracks, the other ones seem tame by comparison. These tracks are far more basic in design, sticking to a metallic hardcore sound that is more familiar. The groove-encrusted vibes of “Salt Water Cthulhu” chug along with an infectious quality that shows sonic diversity. The band’s affection for Today Is The Day is evident with their solid cover of “Temple Of The Morning Star.” Combining the acoustic and electric parts that were originally split apart, Pristina puts together a shining tribute that can stand on its own.

With two re-recorded tracks from the “Khe Sanh” EP and the cover, there are only two new tracks on “The Drought (ov Salt and Sorrow).” That is probably the only big complaint, though the title track has enough material in it to warrant repeated listens. It’s a little self-indulgent at times, especially with the three minute drum solo, but Pristina pulls it off better than a lot of actual progressive metal bands have. It’s clear that the band seems comfortable with the longer, more experimental tracks than the tight, contained numbers. Pristina is slowly evolving into some unknown entity, and this unknown factor is what makes the band so engrossing to follow.

Highs: Eccentric songwriting, doesn't stick to metallic hardcore conventions, ambitious title track is a successful risk

Lows: Could have benefited from a few more new tracks, title track is a litte self-indulgent at times

Bottom line: An engrossing debut supported by the gargantuan 23-minute title track.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)