Whenever I listen to Alice In Chains’ magnum opus, 1992’s Dirt, I tell myself, there is no album out there more bleak, more defeatist, more depressing than this. But those dark and overcast musings may have cast their shadow on a new piece of work, Vashon Rain (due out July 13th, 2018) by Soul Attrition, the debut from Josh Parlette, bassist of Chicago sludge/noise trio Escape is not Freedom. Leave your good vibes and carefree attitude at the door, because there are no happy things where we are going!
We open with the track “Sinking” and some seriously heavy, grunge laden riffs reminiscent of Alice In Chains. Parlette sings with the same cadence and dreary tone as Alice In Chains singer, the late Layne Staley, though there are other moments on the album where he sings with more of a hardcore delivery. While this does give a unique feel to the songs, I’m not sure if it’s necessary as the music seems to thrive more when Parlette is channeling his inner Staley.
“Thirteen” keeps going with the doomy negativity. The track is laced with heavy guitar parts and plodding but ferocious half-time drumming. At over five minutes the track really opens up and takes time to brood, as do many of Soul Attrition’s tracks on this album. None more so than “Remission,” an almost eight-minute epic that feels like the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno; each verse seems to get more maddeningly depressing until a long melancholic guitar fade out that seems just as hopeless. I will reiterate the same sentiment I did on “Sinking” for the song “Fatal Flaw.” Parlette’s vocals during the verses are bang on and full of pessimistic bile, but when the chorus hits I’m left a little underwhelmed.
“Vashon Rain” is a quick acoustic palette cleanser before the final two tracks “Unexpected Affront” and “Euclid,” the first of which is notable for its stellar guitar solo as the climax of the song. It’s another mammoth of a song, seven minutes, but it doesn’t feel tired or redundant which is nice. We end with “Euclid” and you guessed it, this is a depressing track. I warned you! But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? Parlette seems comfortable wallowing in his melancholy and I am of the mind that depression spawns the greatest songwriting! Well, that and drugs! Disclaimer: don’t do drugs kids.
The production on the record is moderate and could use a little studio polish but aside from that, “Vashon Rain” is an engaging and heartfelt listen. Make sure you’re in the right head space when you hit play on this one and if you do, I can assure you it will be soul-crushingly satisfying.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Mike Milito