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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Therapy? go back in time to catch up on Disquiet with melodies and menace

NORTHERN Ireland's Therapy? were once described by Kerrang! (when it still was a metal mag) as the UK's potential version of Metallica. With 'Troublegum' bothering charts across the globe the potential was certainly there.

But Therapy? were happier being the awkward kids and released a selection of densely packed albums to shove a middle finger up at the fashionistas and scenesters. Well, they are from Northern Ireland...

Now, 21 years after 'Troublegum' Therapy? have released their 14th studio album with a re-imagining of the characters from 'Troublegum' older, wiser, and three times as cynical.

This could have been seen as a desperate attempt to re-capture the success of that album  - something that Andy Cairns denies - but instead infuses itself with tracks that are darkly glorious; a melange of melodies and menace.

Out this week on Amazing Record Co. this is simply put a fantastic release. Yes, 'Crooked Timber' and 'A Brief Crack of Light' were great albums, but this time they have stretched themselves to produce an album that is accessibly dark, living up to its title 'Disquiet'.

Take the likes of 'Fall Behind' and 'Idiot Cousin' - twisted tales that glory in the shadows of human existence yet have more hooks than an illegal tuna fisherman.

“We wanted to write something a bit more anthemic again,” said Andy. “In May last year we did a 20th anniversary tour for the ‘Troublegum’ album, and it was completely sold out, and it was great hearing those songs sung back at us, and seeing what they meant to people.

"Clearly it would be idiocy for us to attempt to recreate ‘Troublegum’, because that was a different era, and a different band line-up, but the starting point for this album for me was thinking ‘What would the protagonist of Troublegum be doing twenty years on?

Our last two albums were more experimental and diverse, and we already knew that he wanted to go back to more ‘song’-based stuff this time around, so that conceptual idea dovetailed perfectly with what we planned in terms of the musical direction.”

And, we present as evidence the opening riff of 'Helpless Still Lost' and subsequent chorus - this is Therapy? at their malevolent best.

Tom Dalgety's production keeps the darker tones of more recent releases, but allows the tracks to breathe their putrid vapours on 11 tracks of what is correctly put in the PR blurb as "in-your-face, bruisingly melodic punk/metal".

Nowhere is this more evident than on the outstanding 'Torment Sorrow Misery Strife'. Andy with Michael McKeegan (bass) and Neil Cooper (drums) have distilled a dark brew, a heady concoction that no band who were not from Northern Ireland could ever have produced.

That is best summed up on concluding track 'Deathstimate', a slowed down track that eschews self-pity in favour of the melancholic Irish trait to hone in on mortality. It is a triumphant close to the album as Andy contemplates 'the end' of everything a life may have held.

'Disquiet' could have been  a re-treading of 'Troublegum' but instead it sees a band reflective but raucous; menacing and malevolent; and,confrontational in examining the human condition.

Review by Jonny

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