Theologian - A Means by Which to Break the Surface of the Real
Redscroll Records
Industrial / Drone
4 songs (42' 56")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

Theologian took a sharp turn away from drone in its last album, Some Things Have to Be Endured, and their latest LP, A Means by Which to Break the Surface of the Real, now further explores the band's dark and complex sound. This one somewhat blurs what used to be the more focused beats and heavy guitars of the previous album, but still sticks largely to its industrial factory-machine sound, yielding a complex album that I needed to listen to a couple of times to get my head around.

The first track, God Comes as a Wall, has no beat, just a whirring like the sound of a giant fan, with the subsonics of giant pistons moving regularly. Over this comes agonized shrieking, echoing from far away, the tormented voice repeating a few indistinct words again and again. After that, Surface of the Real fades in with a regular, throbbing beat over what might be a theremin run through a loop pedal (I wouldn't be surprised). The Sun Failed to Rise Today starts getting a little longer, and changes to a thunderous, slow drumming with a heavily processed voice sample singing the same small tune over and over. As if the listener is being transported slowly on a conveyor belt to another portion of the factory, other sounds slowly break in and get louder as the voice sample gets fainter; machinery squeals, sirens starting up, and high-pitched synth chords fade in and then back out as the song progresses, the sounds getting calmer and less chaotic as the track finally fades out.

I spoke too soon when I mentioned Theologian's departure from drone territory, because in Truthseeker's Pick, they're back to it, with a song that lasts 22 minutes, has no real beat, guitars, or even (for the most part) recognizable synth for most of the time, unless you count hissing with faraway tones suggesting a melody. A very quiet beat starts up about thirteen minutes into the song for a while, and almost at the end, a high-pitched clashing of metal can be heard as another "beat", finally fading into an electric hum like a bad transformer.

A Means by Which to Break the Surface of the Real was somewhat interesting, but I found myself unable to get into it like I did with Some Things Have to be Endured. It's a lot less tightly defined and has more in common with the project's earlier drone sound than the last one did, and it's certainly much less metal-oriented. Perhaps it's an evolutionary step in the way Theologian's music's developing, but moving away from their abrasive sound on the last couple albums without really substituting anything much in its place might not appeal to all past listeners.

Killing Songs :
None
Andy quoted 69 / 100
Other albums by Theologian that we have reviewed:
Theologian - Some Things Have To Be Endured reviewed by Andy and quoted 84 / 100
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