Well fuck me (Er..don’t actually. Pretty sure neither of us would enjoy it…), a PR sheet that speaks the truth! ‘A metallic version of Ulver’s Perdition City.. ‘ Yep, that’s it. Or a melodic death metal version at least. Now after I’d listened to this a few times and started this review I did something I don’t usually do; I read a few other highlighted reviews. Just to confirm my brain is indeed on another planet.
OK, start again. Futility Report is the debut from Ukrainian band White Ward who stress literary influences from H P Lovecraft to these much missed Iain M Banks and that’s a fair part of where I live. And Perdition City is not just one of my favourite albums, but a comfort and a touchstone when I travel. So. Right, staring at the pachyderm tap dancing in the corner, this really does sound like a metallic version of Perdition City, right down to the hazy lazy jazzy saxophone. Nor is there really anything remotely strikingly original about the fusion with more straightforward gothic/melodic death metal here.
Doesn’t make it remotely bad though. Especially as no one else currently sounds like White Ward, not that I know of. No one. Now that’s a cool trick if you can pull it off; very familiar but alone in a field of one (elephants notwithstanding.) It is very listenable, too. When the riffs crank up and the jazz saxophone wails away along with it, there is a lovely feel here. The death vocals are fine, the atmosphere here thoughtful introspective with a heavy wet, early hours street of melancholy, particularly in quieter moments like the finger-snap meandering of ‘Rain As Cure’.
There are a few downsides, though. Where the literary influences come in I have no idea; there’s nothing here that would hint at a pseudopod blasphemous or otherwise and it’s either too downbeat or too aggressive to bring to mind Iain M Banks (if ever there was a civilisation that would be full of free form jazz improv and hipster-nip singer-songwriters from obscure backgrounds it would be The Culture). But really one of Futility Report’s strengths is its weakness too: This really is a complete album, absolutely no doubt there, but the lack of standout songs means although it is so easy to get into and just go with it, it’s moments and riffs and passages that shake you back to attention. It’s too easy to just get taken by the flow but suddenly realise you have no idea of what the album is trying to say where it has taken you, what the journey is. It’s not that it’s superficial, more that somewhere the focus has drifted.
That’s a shame as there is a lot to like here; since tricky arrangements add depth, the production is fine and the band themselves come across as excellent. The sound is full and accomplished. If proggy trip-hop, jazz coloured melodic black / death v goth metal sounds fun, give them a good hard listen. I’ll definitely be watching them.