Least Hated: SECTION 8 '9 Ways To Say I Love You'
Section 8 may never have gotten their proper due in the history of metal and hardcore, but in their home area they are legendary.
Here at Lambgoat we have a reputation to uphold, so we can't say that these are our favorite, time-tested, go-to albums. Let's just call them Lambgoat's least hated instead.
If you lived within a certain radius of Albany, NY in the nineties and were listening to underground music, chances are high that you knew of Section 8; outside of that radius and you probably didn’t. So it went in the nineties—the hardcore scene still had an aspect of regionality to it that relegated some of its best bands to remain local heroes rather than the celebrated names they should have been. As unfortunate as that may be, it is also part of what gave that era its certain charm.
Section 8 came from suburban upstate New York—an area dominated by strip malls and assembly-line style housing developments—but gained notoriety within Albany’s booming hardcore scene. The band impressed audiences playing alongside the likes of fellow local legends One King Down and Withstand at the now legendary club QE2, and made waves with their debut LP, Pain Is Truth. On it, Section 8 showcased an original and intriguing blend of metal, hardcore and gothic rock led by vocalist Kasey Dorr’s low croon—a voice that resembled such iconic New York City singers as Peter Steele of Type O Negative and Mina Caputo of Life Of Agony. But it was with their second and final album, Nine Ways To Say I Love You, that the band expanded their style into a truly unique dynamic, one that would withstand the test of time.
Nine Ways To Say I Love You found Section 8 broadening their sound. The band’s songwriting took a turn into less traditional structures with the heavier parts becoming more aggressive, more unhinged, and the mellow parts gloomier and more poignant. The material developed a tension-building push-and-pull aesthetic that, accompanied by Dorr’s tormented delivery, created an overall grim tone. Big Sabbath-inspired riffs clashed with pummeling death metal grooves and ethereal clean sections, giving the vocalist the space to sing, scream and growl his way through emotionally jarring lyrical content.
The record’s two opening numbers, “Broken Glass Memories” and “God Complex” run together, creating a bipolar paradox of shifting sounds right from the start. Guitarist Andras Janik’s untethered bouts of metal riffing collide with serene melodic sections and sludgy, Acid Bath inspired bleakness. Drummer Tim Parent’s trebly double kick and Mike Watkajtys’ down-tuned, twanging bass tone created a jagged mid-range pulse that, coupled with the warm guitar tone, contributed to an unsettling, maniacal feel.
As the record progresses, more straightforward songs like “Winter” and “Sky Is Falling” utilize heavy mosh grooves whereas “Torn” weaves its way around rhythmic shifts, as Section 8 move into more lurid territory. The albums brutal nature is broken up by moody instrumentals like the interlude track “Anesthetics” and the long, acoustic backed intro to “Torn.” In the middle of the six-minute-plus “Divinity Of Loneliness”—one of the albums most devastating tracks—the band drops back, providing a funereal bed for Dorr to lament the tragic loss of a loved one. Watkajtys’ trembling bass carries along the bridge as the rest of the band slowly joins, building up into a haunting refrain before crashing back into the song’s chaotic conclusion.
Throughout the record Dorr delivers starkly personal lyrics, often times invoking darkness with religious imagery. In “Torn” he writes “Wrists tied / Crucified / Drive the nails deeper this time,” and in between recitations of literary character Captain Ahab’s infamous “From hell’s heart I stab at thee,” in “God Complex,” the singer adds “I am the messiah and you are my sheep.” There’s an overall tone of grief and loss to his lyrics, which you can almost feel in his cathartic screams.
Nine Ways To Say I Love You closes out on two of the band’s most intriguing songs. “Shame Of Cain” is built upon a staggering riff which Janick lets ring out while the rhythm section carries on. The song also offers Sections 8’s most pleasant sounding break, occurring between bouts of furious riffing. Closing track “De-Omega” starts with clean guitar while Dorr sings in a low hush. Just as silence encroaches, he speaks in a near whisper right before all hell breaks loose. But just as the album ends, the band pulls back into a more melodic riff, the bittersweet aftermath of the albums onslaught.
Section 8 may never have gotten their proper due in the history of metal and hardcore, but in their home area they are legendary. Nine Ways To Say I Love You is a classic in its own right, an amalgamation of all the styles of music that made the nineties Albany scene a hot bed of creative bands. Fans of any type of heavy music would be wise to add this to their collection.