Shai Hulud That Within Blood Ill-Tempered
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01. Scornful Of The Motives And Virtue Of Others
02. Let Us At Last Praise The Colonizers Of Dreams
03. The Consummate Dragon
04. Willing Oneself To Forget What Cannot Otherwise Be Forgiven
05. Two And Twenty Misfortunes
06. Being Exemplary
07. Given Flight By Demon's Wings
08. Whether To Cry Or Destroy
09. This Song: For The True And Passionate Lovers Of Music
10. Ending The Perpetual Tragedy
Reviewed by: Alex
// Published: 6/23/2003
Ultimately, Shai Hulud did themselves few favors by taking several years to release this record. Sure, interest was piqued amongst fans. However, nothing short of a masterpiece can appease month after month of growing expectations. So essentially, a potentially great album finds itself in "good album" territory, simply because Shai Hulud fans were expecting nothing less than amazing. And frankly, after a few listens, I was disappointed. None of the tracks really stood out (not the first time for a Hulud album). In fact, the first word that came to mind was "boring." As is my tendency though, I stuck it out. And luckily, my patience was rewarded. Each subsequent listen yielded additional returns, eventually rendering my initial assessment inaccurate.
Listeners with prior Hulud experience will note that on a general level, this record differs very little from previous material. They're still playing hardcore with a metallic edge, an emotional undercurrent, and over-the-top song titles. Such a summary begs the question - what group isnt playing that style these days Point taken, but you'll have to excuse Shai Hulud, as they were doing it before 90% of today's similar artists. No, this isn't a diatribe against the current state of hardcore, simply fact.
Thankfully, guitarist Matt Fox continues to drop his trademark lead-over-chord stylings, which definitely provides Shai Hulud with a nuance most bands either ignore, or aren't capable of utilizing. The effectiveness of said guitarwork is particularly evident on tracks such as "Let Us At Last Praise The Colonizers Of Dreams" and "Given Flight By Demon's Wings." Then again, one could probably accuse Shai Hulud of overusing this technique, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but for most of this record, it works. Lead noodling aside, there are also plenty of interesting chord combinations explored by both guitars. Clearly, they haven't been sitting around for the last few years watching CH*Ps reruns (I have, and I don't regret it).
Vocalist Geert is in top-form as well. With a powerful and commanding delivery, he's really got the quintessential hardcore scream - not too high-pitched, and not too dull. Listening to him yell "Godspeed" halfway through "Being Exemplary" is evidence enough of his aptitude for hardcore vocals.
Of course I must address the seriousness with which this band takes its art. With song titles such as "This Song: For The True And Passionate Lovers Of Music," it's difficult not to chuckle when one ponders the fact that these guys might not have their tongues in their cheeks. There's a fine line between sincere and cheesy, and I have a difficult time deciding where these guys stand. The fact remains though that even if one is particularly annoyed with Hulud's melodrama, it doesn't carry over into the music itself (it could have if Geert employed clean singing, etc.), and it definitely shouldn't preclude anyone from enjoying this album. If nothing else, the group's proclivity for deep-thinking has produced some very interesting and thought-provoking lyrics, which are are vaguely akin to excerpts of dark poetry.
The layout is effective, though not earth-shattering. As one might expect, the black and red color-scheme plays host to creative artwork revolving around blood, the body, and the heart. The production is slightly less satisfactory, though certainly adequate. The mix is good, but the overall dynamic range of the rhythm section is lacking, and the entire album needs just a bit more punch. Yes, I'm being petty, but again, when you take this long to release a record, you need to nail this stuff.
Bottom Line: If I was to compare this album to a baseball game, I'd chalk this one up as a fairly decisive victory. And while "That Within Blood Ill-Tempered" is not homerun after homerun, there aren't any strike-outs either. Maybe a foul or two and a seventy year-old batboy... ok, fuck baseball. Essentially, this is a very good album, with a few brilliant moments (eg. "Let Us At Last Praise The Colonizers Of Dreams"), and a few mediocre ones as well (eg. "Ending The Perpetual Tragedy"). Be patient though; the more you listen, the more you'll enjoy.