Rarely have I heard music so difficult to listen to as Jung Shadow’s aptly-named ordeal of an album, No One Left to Disappoint. After powering through these 58 minutes of aggressive but aimless electropunk, I struggled to find anything positive to say, despite my best efforts. This album is well-produced and aesthetically consistent, but I can’t imagine anyone enjoying it.
Imagine the skull pictured in the album art gnawing away at your eardrums with its dirty needle teeth. That’s what this one-man project from Ottawa sounds like. Mastermind Kevin N. Hell‘s music is abrasive, oppressive and monotonous to levels exceeded only by drone and noise music. However, his offering lacks the fiercely original and compelling charm of the best examples of those types of music – this is no Dronevil.
Instead, Kevin N. Hell chooses to focus here on lyrical messages. This, along with minimally well-made drum loops and instrumental work, earns him some points. Tracks like “Depression II” and “I Am a Battery” draw a convincing sketch of this artist’s inner state. The message is one of a bleak, broken world we cannot hope to fix, resulting in anger, fear, depression and cynicism. The release date makes me want to say “Thanks, COVID-19!” But I know better. The world was a problematic place before the pandemic, and will continue to be so afterwards; some people just need to let it all out in the ugliest form possible, and that process has led to some of my favourite music.
Sadly, Jung Shadow’s grating, monotonous vocals and simplistic musical structures just don’t do this noble sentiment justice. This album was simultaneously unpleasant and boring. It sounded like one long track of him shouting over 808 drum loops with simple, distorted guitar riffs and doomy synth lines.
Distant cousins may include American industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails and French punk legends Bérurier Noir – although drawing a direct comparison to those two wildly different, yet amazing artists would be impossible, and perhaps even daft. The truth is, Jung Shadow seems to be in an electro-punk universe of his own. His music, although not pleasant at all, doesn’t seem meant to be so. However, its aesthetically misinformed monotony and disastrous vocals mean I cannot in good faith recommend it to anyone.
Written by Henri Brillon
*Edited by Dominic Abate