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Mark Deutrom - "The Value Of Decay" (CD)

Mark Deutrom - "The Value Of Decay" CD cover image

"The Value Of Decay" track listing:

1. From The Deepest Well (2:42)
2. Darksider (2:17)
3. Au Printemps (1:53)
4. Love Story Pt. 1 (1:17)
5. Making A Killing (8:34)
6. Love Story Pt. 2 (1:16)
7. Buried In The Jewel (4:52)
8. Victor's Closet (1:49)
9. Love Story Pt. 3 (:58)
10. Cities Of Gold (7:35)
11. Blood Fairies (3:50)
12. Perish The Thought (2:58)
13. Curtains (3:25)
14. Love Story Pt. 4 (1:41)
15. Empire Sands (8:58)

Reviewed by on May 19, 2011

"This is an ambitious project with limited appeal to the general music population, but will latch itself to listeners who enjoy being unrestrained by traditional songwriting."

Any Melvins fans will know Mark Deutrom as the bassist during the mid ‘90s era of the band. Deutrom has been keeping busy since then with The County Bucks and a blossoming solo career. His fourth solo record, “The Value Of Decay,” is fifteen tracks of heartache and eerie soundscapes. It’s meant to be a singular piece of music. The most benefit comes from listening to it in one sitting, though there are several stand-alone tracks worthy of attention. This is an ambitious project with limited appeal to the general music population, but will latch itself to listeners who enjoy being unrestrained by traditional songwriting.

It takes almost seven minutes for the Steven Wilson-esque vocals to appear on “The Value Of Decay.” The first three tracks are instrumentals, drawing together a unpleasant atmosphere where darkness is an omniscient ally. The somber acoustic guitar on opener “From The Deepest Well” exceeds expectations; it’s a pity that this approach is only used once more on “Perish The Thought.” More acoustic guitar would have been a welcomed sight later among the gloom.

“Making A Killing” is the first real glimpse at Deutrom’s sludge/doom mentality. His work with Melvins and Neurosis clearly shows, with extended bouts of light and dark interplay; distorted riffs are alongside soothing female vocals, for example. The shredding lead guitar parts in the middle and end of the track are a positive influence on the song. “Cities Of Gold” sticks to this formula, and “Empire Sands” features a sullen violin outro to finish in a low-key, yet emotional, manner.

The overload of short interludes, including the four-part “Love Story,” will drain the interest of some listeners. They relate well when placed together, but listening to something like “Love Story Pt 2” on its own merit guarantees a less-than-fruitful outcome. In particular, “Blood Fairies” is four minutes of wandering ambient noise, and “Victor’s Closet” is undeveloped in its potential. “Curtains” breaks the trend with a dreamy feeling washed over, bolstered by the female/male vocal dynamic heard first on “Making A Killing.”

If one is looking for an immersive record, “The Value Of Decay” should do just fine. Its sludge roots clash with experimental acoustic/noise, resulting in a provocative, if hard to digest, album. An outright recommendation is hard to throw out, based on the ups-and-downs taken by Deutrom. There are awesome lead solos, and his low-key vocal performance suits the unkempt mood, but this is meant to be explored as an hour-long affair. Picking out clear highlights is a pointless task, as each song benefits the next one. “The Value Of Decay” is as good to the listener as the effort they are willing to put back into it.

Highs: Unsettling atmosphere, solid sludge/doom musical structure, wild guitar leads, a lot of depth to it

Lows: Overload of short interludes, better as a singular piece of music than individual tracks

Bottom line: A sprawling 15-track sludge record that is as gripping as it is creepy.

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)