Album Review :
Despite My Pride - Cold Blood/Simple Math EP
Artist: Despite My Pride
Title: Cold Blood/Simple Math
Release Date: 8/26/14
Reviewer: Scott Swan
- Little Eyes Looking Into Lobotomy
- The Beginning of Something Terrible
- Witch Hunt
- Rex Banner
- Black Lung
In the vein of trying to play catch up with some of the reviews from last year, let’s take a look at an interesting release from New Jersey’s own Despite My Pride, entitled “Cold Blood/Simple Math.” One thing that stuck out to me while listening to this EP, was that the moment you think you have the direction the sound is going pinned down, that’s about the time the band mixes it up and throws in something unexpected. They do a great job of keeping things fresh, adding just enough chaos to keep this record interesting, while creating a nice sense of anticipation throughout. The vocals are intense and urgent, delivering a focused hardcore scream full of groaning passion. In my opinion, the lyrics and themes are really the stars in some of these tunes. Some thought provoking stuff here, all coming from a distinct, Gospel centered view point.
The first tune is already interesting just from the title alone: “Little Eyes Looking into Lobotomy.” The guitars flow at different pacing throughout the entire song, from subtle, to chucky, to melodic. The screaming from vocalist Mitchell Layton are consistent even during the softer moments. Which, in turn, creates an acute tension here, driving home the grievous nature of the subject matter. That subject, while not totally spelled out for you, seems to be about lust issues, perhaps pornography addiction:
I’ll keep the needle pristine.
My killer lives on a screen.
I made my motive a mistress,
and I don’t deserve your forgiveness.
“The Beginning of Something Terrible” brings a lot of different elements musically, and it took me a while to discern what I even thought about it. It starts off hard and heavy, rocking through the opening few stanzas. Then seemingly out of nowhere, the guitars and pounding drums come to an abrupt stop, and in drops what sounds like a 1920’s jazz piano that briefly plays through a measure. My first thought was, “Well that was interesting.” It’s the sort of thing you will probably like or not, but I ultimately think it does add interest to the piece. Also, it may be that the disorganized nature of the music is simply highlighting what the writer is going through in his own mind. The lyrics do suggest a person doing some major soul searching here, trying to break though the noise that often occupies our minds.
By the time you get to “Witch Hunt,” you have by now noticed that the band could care less about the standard verse/chorus layout, so don’t even worry about it, and you know what? That’s okay. Thematically, pointing to the futility and off-putting nature of being self righteous “moral police”, the tune features some well crafted, hard guitar interludes and some of the best vocal work on the EP. “Rex Banner” may be from beginning to end, the most straight forward, hardest rocking, but least chaotic tune on the record. It also introduces the first good amount of “clean” singing we hear, which is not a bad effort.
Finishing things off, “Black Lung,” starts with the familiar sharp vocals screamed over a gentle, understated guitar lick, then picks up some serious steam. A forcible track that sounds almost like a tug of war battle between good and evil, and this battle rages all the way to end with the final screams of, “You can’t have him, not without a fight you can’t!” An intense way to close out the album, leaving the impression that even though the battles rage, don’t give up the fight until God settles the matter one day.
Overall: Despite My Pride has delivered an interesting work, that never really settles into any one particular form, and there is nothing wrong with that. If lack of structure is not your thing, I would still recommend you give the record a listen. Lyrical content alone should give you enough to chew on for awhile, and I believe the music will grow on you as well. For those of you who are already a fan of this style, you should have no issues with the way the band puts things together on Cold Blood/Simple Math. Hopefully DMP will continue to be a band that (as they say on their Facebook page), “wants nothing more than to tell people how Jesus saved their souls and get a little rowdy at shows.”
RIYL: Sound the Ruin, What We Do In Secret, The Chariot