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Gaza - "He Is Never Coming Back" (CD)

Gaza - "He Is Never Coming Back" CD cover image

"He Is Never Coming Back" track listing:

1. How it Is. How Its Going To Be. (4:32)
2. The Kicking Legs (2:57)
3. Bishop (3:06)
4. The Biologist (:49)
5. Windowless House (1:57)
6. He Is Never Coming Back (2:07)
7. Canine Disposal Unit (4:21)
8. The Anthropologist (:40)
9. The Meat Of A Leg Joint (3:21)
10. The Astronomer (2:36)
11. Tombless (3:54)
12. The Historian (1:02)
13. Carnivore (4:06)

Reviewed by on November 27, 2009

"Like a scene straight out of 'Mad Max,' the lifeless sonic landscape Gaza has created, one that is crusted over with dirt and blood, is gruesomely delightful."

It is easy for any band to express feelings of hate or bitterness towards a subject or idea. Just write down a few verses of personal/rant-filled streams of thought, transplant them onto angry-sounding riffs, and cap it off with a vocalist foaming at the mouth. Make a dozen or so songs out of that formula and bam; a tirade of venom seeping through every nook and cranny of an album that people eat up like a $1 double cheeseburger. These are the type of bands that go on and on about their abusive childhoods, express politically-charged opinions, and lament over how much society truly sucks, while having three-page-long “Thank You” lists in the linear notes that include everybody from local radio desk jockeys to half-cousins.

Salt Lake City’s Gaza is not a carbon copy of the angst-ridden filth sweeping the mainstream airwaves. On “He Is Never Coming Back,” their deep-seeded disdain towards false ideals is given weight by uncompromising dissonance and suffocating atmosphere. Every song feels like a MMA choke-hold that gets tighter and tighter as the seconds creep on, cutting off circulation to the brain and leaving the listener one step closer to death’s doorstep. A few melodic numbers are placed throughout the album, but there are no real chances to take a deep breath of relaxation, as the hostility remains a large presence.

Gaza isn’t tied down to one restricted genre. Elements of hardcore, doom, and grind occupy “He Is Never Coming Back,” all of which are integrated with relative ease. Opener “How It Is. How It's Going To Be” begins at a frighteningly slow pace, each guitar note a stab in the gut with a steak knife, with the booming drums twisting in the blade a little deeper. In contrast, the band shows its vicious and bloodthirsty side with “The Kicking Legs” and “Bishop.” This back-and-forth shift that dominates the album resembles a duel between a lumbering mammoth and a rage-infused shark.

“He Is Never Coming Back” is, in essence, a simple album. Everything, from the music to the lyrics, is stark and stripped-down to the bare essentials. The only real dynamic instrument is the drums, which are played with a John Bonham-on-speed mentality that stands out amongst the rest of the band. The lyrics range from two sentences to a full paragraph, each word sung in a torturous scream that extends on for long durations of time. A sound as violent and primitive as this doesn’t need technical ability or fancy showmanship.

All the belligerent feelings and contempt mindsets tend to be a hindrance to the album at times. The sheer volume of heaviness wears on the listener, though the brief running time helps to ease this burden. A little more variety, like the extended instrumental “The Astronomer” and the various short melodic interludes, would have helped even more. While the sharp “Carnivore” is labeled the last track, there is a 16 minute untitled bonus track that is largely worthless; a hazy jam session that hardly picks up any steam.

There is a moment on “He Is Never Coming Back” where the overwhelming perception of darkness sweeps over every note, every vocal line, and every harsh beat of a drum. Like a scene straight out of “Mad Max,” the lifeless sonic landscape Gaza has created, one that is crusted over with dirt and blood, is gruesomely delightful. Many will not take kindly to this morose apocalyptic terrain, which is as rough as it comes. This album is not one to pull out at family gatherings or house parties; “He Is Never Coming Back” demands that the shades are pulled down, the lights dimmed low, and an open mind is attentive to the punishment Gaza delivers on all fronts.

Highs: Brutal drumming, violent and primitive sound, bleak atmosphere, solid mix of hardcore, doom, and grind.

Lows: Simplistic album both musically and lyrically, pointless bonus track, may be too heavy-handed for some to appreciate.

Bottom line: Gaza has crafted a hardcore/grind album dripping with rage and hostility, supported by an atmosphere drenched in decay and darkness.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)