September 17, 2009 | | 3.5

the_Network, Bishop Kent Manning

the_Network: Bishop Kent Manning

More often then naught, the words “conceptual piece” induce a dry heaving gag reflex in many a metal fan — stirring the thick yellow bile deep in our collective guts. With Converge‘s Kurt Ballou pushing the right buttons, New Hampshire’s own the_Network keep the retching to a minimum, staving off any violent re-churning of that cold pizza and beer we had for lunch. In fact, the discordant pummeling contained within this story of one Bishop Kent Manning only goads us to inhale more, glutting ourselves on dissonant, near-grating and, at times, atmospheric noise.

Right from the beginning of the band’s sophomore release, we’re thrown into a tumultuous mix of destructive noise, caustic riffs and off kilter time signatures — all of which will leave you dizzy and waiting for more. Ballou’s production work on the album is definitely apparent as the thick, sludgy feel to the raucous riffs and thundering drums dominate throughout. Vocally, the screams range from indecipherable belts of esophageal destruction to mid range growling shouts. When all is said and done, the_Network end up delivering a solid slab of forceful, chaotic hardcore.

From Holy Water to Holy Wars
With a grinding drum attack masked in driving chaotic, hardcore noise “From Holy Water to Holy Wars” is a smothering, bruising affair. The guitars here and there take on a Converge-like feel, but that’s to be expected with Ballou at the boards. At just over two minutes in length this serves as an aural blitzkrieg to get you ready for the rest of the album.

Following and Failing
I don’t know who’s taking on the backing vocals for this track, but they are shriekingly tortured, fitting in nicely with the driving rhythms and lead screams. This song has some serious depth along with some crazy timing throughout. Man, this one feels like a locomotive that’s been derailed and tearing through the parking lot right for your front door. After the three minute mark are some seriously heavy riffs and layered screams to end out the song.

Your Own Personal Time Bomb
This next one is a bit slower than the previous two songs, yet still has plenty of angst and aggression to keep it inline with the album thus far. The guitars have a bit more of a sludgier feel to them, as the drums are all over the freakin’ place. I love the progressive slow down just before the three minute point as it’s followed by some heavy-assed guitars.

Service with a Smile
Late Sepultura-like guitars open up this next one with crashing drums and ruptured throat vocals. There’s more than enough going on throughout “Service with a Smile” to keep even the most ADD affected of us on our toes. Combine the overall clustered feeling of the song with its unrelenting pace and you have yourself a face peeling blast of noise crusted hardcore. Awesome song.

Telethons for the Rich
Buckle up before launching into this next track. the_Network throw in a decent helping of grind into this spastic, chaotic monolith. “Telethons for the Rich” is everything the band can dish out in just under 1:20. This is a blinding, deafening track that will require multiple replays to absorb it all.

Paranoid Deserter
A sludgier, doomier start to this next song changes things up a bit with massive riffs, heavy drum work and a slightly toned down vocal delivery. Ballou has done a nice job of letting these guys run rampant for a majority of the album but also restrains them a bit, pulling them back down to Earth for a stellar song with great musicianship. The 2:40 mark sees a nice shift in the overall feel of the song as the band transitions into some heavy drum dominated noise with crushing riffs. This one has a bit of a Cult of Luna feel to it as it reaches into the five minute mark.

Easter Just Stopped Showing Up
There are some seriously thick and massive riffs that permeate the air during “Easter Just Stopped Showing Up.” When mixed with the vocal delivery and thundering drums, this is easily going to be one of my favorite songs for a while. The ebb and flow of the waves of doomy metal with the lighter moments add tremendous depth to the song and is just plain catchy as hell. Fucking awesome.

Corpse Paint
Building up slowly from a some quiet and light guitar work, “Corpse Paint” gets into a groove about 1:20 into the track with a feel similar to some of the stuff that Torche has recently done, but edgier and more aggressive. The overall feel to this one is a bit more melancholy and emotive when put with the rest of the album. This is a nice change up from the thickly layered songs that fill the rest of the album. This quite the varied song with a great deal of atmosphere and experimentation. After seven minutes the song ends in dramatic fashion.

You Fucking Fakes
Whoa. Talk about violent. “You Fucking Fakes” is like strapping yourself to the hood of an eighteen wheeler in a head-n collision; then doing it again and again and… well you get the picture. Thundering drums and thick riffs pummel from the left and right as the harsh vocal delivery is belted out with plenty of vehemence. The layered vocals around the two minute mark add a bit of insanity to the mix as plenty of warbling noise ends it nicely.

Kent Manning
“Kent Manning” wraps up the album, starting off with slightly muted vocals over light guitars for the first minute or so before the drums and thick bass come in. The guitars thicken up over the second minute as well, delivery doomy riffs like a crushing tsunami of noise. Very cool song to end on.

~ ~ ~

Additional Notes: