I would be committing a great injustice to my readers if I did not begin with a warning: This album is not for those with narrow minds. With that being said, I can proceed to review The Sound of Animals Fighting’s second release, Lover, the Lord Has Left Us. Not only did The Sound of Animals Fighting (TSOAF) experiment with new sounds on this record, but they also played with new recording techniques and truly pushed their listener’s limits. It seemed impossible that this band, whose members already disguised themselves in plastic masks of bizarre animals, and accepted that species name as their own alias, could get any stranger. However, TSOAF proved fans wrong.
Although Lover, the Lord Has Left Us was recorded using the same method as TSOAF’s first record, the two albums are drastically dissimilar. The members of the band, all of whom already hold positions in other musical acts, recorded their parts to the album individually and could only listen to their contribution to the album.
This album also differs from the first in that it features vocals from two new members, Keith Goodwin formerly of Days Away (Penguin) and Craig Owens (Ram) of Chiodos. Lover, the Lord Has Left Us also features a more diverse collection of songs and even enlists the help of electronic instruments to create a more original sound.
The properly named track, Intro, begins the album with forty seconds of static which eventually is overcome by the sound of unorganized brass instruments. The track then flows into the melodious Un’aria, in which Owens lends his feminine voice to this beautiful a cappella song. Later in the album, the song repeats itself with slight variations in the song Un’aria Ancora. Skullflower opens up with heavy, but slow drums followed by occasional methodical buzzes. These sounds continue for a short while before Anthony Green (Skunk), of Circa Survive and Moshtradamus, begins to sing his high-pitched, echoing vocals, dragging out each word. Then, the electric sounds die down, while the drum continues, and a woman is heard singing in Sanskrit. Eventually, the electric sounds return, and other voices can be heard distantly as the woman continues to sing, before Green resumes the vocals. Some consider the song to be bothersome, simply because of the Sanskrit vocalizations. I will admit that it is a song that one does not keep on repeat, but it is still good to listen to occasionally, and any true fan of progressive rock would have to appreciate thins song for its creative genius.
My Horse Must Lose also has a steady electronic beat and a woman speaking in a foreign language, but this time it is Farsi. The vocals are smooth and soothing, but the song is immediately followed by Chiriacho Summit, a song consisting of a woman almost yelling words (in English!) over deafening sounds of static. Although this song is meritorious for its creativity and experimental nature, it is unfortunately annoying to listen to. The next track, Horses in the Sky, is reminiscent of The Sound of Animals Fighting’s first album. True to the them of Lover, the Lord Has Left Us, this track begins with words spoken in a foreign language, which is thought to be said in the Navajo language. Horses in the Sky is fairly easy to listen to. With a clearly organized chorus and a tolerable amount of foreign lyrics this song saves the whole album from being rendered completely unbearable to listen to more than once. Stockhausen, es ist Ihr Gehirn, das ich suche is an eight minute song that begins with strange noises, but then turns to a piano playing, but then returns to the same mechanical noise. Thankfully, just as the listener reaches over to change the track, Anthony Green’s calming vocals kick in, only to be interrupted by an opera singer. The song is highly innovative, but at the same time it is very forgettable.
Prayers on Fire and The Golden Boy That Was Swallowed By the Sea are both great songs, when measured for creativity, but like much of the album, they are a treat during the first listen, but after that they are just slightly irritating. This Heat allows Keith Goodwin, one of the most underrated singers in TSOAF, to showcase his talents. This song is easy to listen to and it maintains the feel of the album. Every second of this over ten minute long song is enjoyable, and one does not feel compelled to skip over any parts (like foreign chanting). St. Broadrick is in Antarctica also manages to express originality, while remaining pleasurable. It features electronic beats, and some unknown rhythmical sound that can only be compared to someone breathing heavily down a metal tube. The slow, monotone vocals are perfect. Half-way through the track, the music ceases and a poem is read. The music resumes and the vocals push the song straight into the album’s best song.
After several forgettable songs, it is easy for The Heretic to be overlooked. This captivating song, sung by Matthew Kelly (Wolf) of The Autumns, leaves the listener shocked and in awe. The track begins slowly and quietly with Kelly beautifully muttering the words. When the chorus begins Kelly fills each word with emotion that goes deep inside the listener. Owens beautifully sings a part in his feminine voice, but the song returns to Kelly. The bridge features numerous voices speaking the same line, “Flesh is heretic, my body is a witch, I am burning it” (a line which was taken from a poem titled “Anorexic”) in a haunting, yet beautiful way.
Most tracks on Lover, the Lord Has Left Us are interesting during the first listen, but after that they are always skipped over. There are some songs that can be listened to on an everyday basis, such as Horses in the Sky, This Heat, St. Broadrick is in Antarctica, and The Heretic. The Sound of Animals Fighting’s efforts to create an innovative experimental album did not go to waste. The record is marvelous when looked at in terms of creativity. Those who were expecting the record to sound like TSOAF’s first album, Tiger and The Duke, will most likely be disappointed. Fans of Circa Survive and The Mars Volta should definitely give this album a listen.
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