I was completely unfamiliar with Author & Punisher, but reading the press release describing the unconventional approach to metal and the fact that it was produced by Phil Anselmo, I just had to dive in and check it out, and I am so glad I did.
Usually I would try and offer a semi-professional critique of what I think about an album, but with this review I find myself trying to maintain composure and calmly explain the many reasons why I am utterly in love with this album, without sounding like an excitable teenage girl.
So when I say unconventional, I really mean it, this is a one man project by Tristan Shone, a sculptor and artist who set out to create music using his collection of hand-made drone machines.
The end result of this approach has had me stumped on how to express in words just what this sounds like, but I have to try. It is a vicious blend of industrial metal (quite literally) and doom, it’s an extremely dark, hellish, bass heavy sound with an incredible amount of brooding atmosphere. Imagine if someone locked Al Jourgensen & Justin Broadrick in a fabricators workshop and forced them to make an album, and you will be somewhere in the ballpark of what to expect…. but you will still not be even slightly prepared for the assault on your senses that this beast of an album delivers.
Reading what this album was, I expected it to be something of an ambient collection of strange noises and not much else, but there is so much more going on here than I anticipated, with the tracks being driven by crushing grooves and all managing to have solid song structures whilst sounding totally alien at the same time.
The atmosphere I mentioned earlier really is a prominent and spectacular feature of this album, with the twisted, abrasive soundscapes and textures wrapped around these songs giving them much more depth than your standard doom or industrial grooves, and all of this feels meticulously considered and perfectly executed.
To explain the immeasurable depths of unique and disturbing sounds present on this album would cause me to go on and on seemingly forever, and to be honest it’s a lot more fun discovering and experiencing them yourself.
With a sound and style that would typically be almost all digital and computerised, the analogue and physical approach to creating this album is nothing short of jaw dropping, and the end result is an album and artist I have not been this excited about since the first time I heard “Through Silver In blood” by the mighty “Neurosis” many years ago.
This album is nothing short of a masterpiece, a true work of art that stands alone as one of the first truly original projects I have heard in a very long time. Giving top marks to an album is not something I do lightly, and I spent a lot of time on repeated listens of this album trying to find criticisms to level at it, and instead only discovered more things to love about it, so on that basis there is only one score I can give it, and that is without a doubt, 10/10.
(Mark Gleed 10/10)