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4 out of 5 skulls

Pristina Hopeless • Godless

Sweet merciful fuck. This is not the same Pristina that put out the very raw and young Boner Jams ’07 in 2007. Nor is even remotely close to the same band that put out the absolutely amazing The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow). The names and faces may certainly be the same, but something has changed. Something dark and full of despair has creeped into the band’s sound. The music on Hopeless • Godless is foreboding, frightening and angry as shit.

The developing dynamics and experimentation with atmosphere that the band only just started to hint at with The Drought is nearly gone — replaced instead by a bludgeoning, single mindedness that is so powerfully focused that it’s quite harrowing to sit through at any one time. The sound on these six songs might even have more in common with the style of noisy, sludgy metalcore that peppered Boner Jams ‘07 and the Khe Sanh EP, yet with a fuller development and willingness to experiment found on their last full-length. Regardless, it’s a bludgeoning, nerve-wracking listening experience that serves as the tortured outlet for all that the band has gone through in recent years. It’s a glimpse into a world scarred by loss, struggle and depression.

“The Motherfucker” couldn’t be any more appropriately titled. The album’s opening track is as vicious a song from the band as we’ve ever heard. It’s barbaric, violent and forgoes any sort of melody or progression, instead serving as a warning for those looking to continue through to the next five songs — this ain’t The Drought. It’s a rather one-dimensional song chock full of off-kilter riffage, but wouldn’t nearly carry the impact and weight it currently does if it were any different.

“The Black Syph” is another track hell-bent on purging the band’s troubles in as violent and abrasive fashion as possible. Again, the guitars forgo any sort of melody, or at least, whenever the band starts to head in that direction they quickly drag it back down into the desolate and dark depths with churning, moshing riffs and the bestial pounding of the drums. This is also the song where we start to see things shift a bit from the monotonous drone of chugging riffs as Pristina start to inject the lightest of influences from their last album in the way of atmospheric touches and subtle progression changes.

Man, I don’t know what vocalist Brendan Duff went through before recording this album, but his screams and growls are delivered with unrepentant vitriol and carry a tortured emotional edge. “The Immoralist” showcases Duff’s vicious delivery to the fullest extent and also introduces a lengthy sound clip from the best damn show on TV right now, The Walking Dead. “Darker (Omega)” is the first time within the crushing din of buzzing guitars, noise and screams that we hear a good bit of spoken vocal work. The addition of this vodal change up only comes after you’ve been beaten into a bruised and bloody pulp by the song’s opening salvo of riffs and bass.

The closest we get to anything from The Drought is the nine minute long album closer, “Malarial,” and holy hell it is a monster of a song. Wow. What starts off rather one-dimensional shifts dramatically to incorporate metal-core vocal leanings, progressive tempo shifts and layered atmosphere to create a song that is dense and powerful. It’s one hell of a way to close out a cathartic and gritty album that is sure to leave many a psyche bruised.

I presume that just about every band, front man/woman or whomever involved with music has at one point or another expressed grief, struggle and/or frustration through their music as a means of self therapy. Well, I’d hate to have gone through half of what Pristina may have gone through based on the hostile energy that is being released through these six songs. No one should have to suffer as much as these guys appear to have, but damn, it makes for some killer music.

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