Album Review: SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE // ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH

Distorted, immersive, and unbounded; ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH is a dulcet exploration like no other of the journey through life, to eventual death.

The experimental electronic elements that have framed and embellished previous SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE albums are propelled to the forefront on this, their fourth album; creating and leading us through moments of frenzy and serenity.

After hovering in the peripheries of the music press for the past six years like a badly kept secret – the Philadelphia based band’s transition to three members, a new record label and remote recordings sent over email, has permitted them to stretch their sound to new heights. Self-recorded and produced, samples from commercials are mixed with layers of reverberating electronic instrumentals and volatile contemplations on sustaining a life in the entertainment industry.

As with the previous releases, especially prior album Hypnic Jerks, each track is anchored by guitarist/vocalist Zack Schwartz’ tenacious riffs that meander across each track. It’s clear that this element has been the catalyst for the assignment of an indie-rock label but constraining ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH to one genre just doesn’t sit right. It’s clear that the band, which also includes bass/vocalist Rivka Ravede and multi-instrumentalist Corey Wichlin, are influenced by a wide range of genres leading to the inclusion of elements taken from psych-rock, experimental electronic, punk and even funk- as the baseline on ‘RAPID AND COMPLETE RECOVERY’ suggests.

In the more chaotic moments, such as the instrumental delivered at the start of opener ‘ENTERTAINMENT’, the lamination of instruments merge in a wave of noise that has industrial qualities. Throughout the LP, snippets of lyrics that hint at the theme of each track are delivered, sometimes clearly, sometimes muffled, sometimes incoherently distorted, only to be submerged into a turbulent cacophony. Intentionally or not, this allows fragments to reside in your head for days after.

This shifting of atmosphere between and within tracks is fluid and seamless. Following the same shift in intensity as single ‘THERES NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO’, ‘GIVE UP YOUR LIFE’ begins as the one of the more mellow tracks as Schwartz coos “If I’m not careful now I wont be long for this world”. But ends in an eruption of discordant and jiggered noises that seem to simulate uncontrollable manic thought processes, that are flawlessly delivered. At no point, despite there being many harsh, thunderous moments, does any element feel contrived or overdone. The composition of trippy, mesmerising soundscapes on tracks such as ‘SERVER IS IMMERSED’ – which highlights the tedium of everyday life – to the looped, manufactured breakdown of ‘IT MIGHT TAKE SOME TIME’, are striking whilst remaining disciplined.

ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH, despite the release of many lock-down albums already, is responsible for inciting the most distressing lament for live gigs – the juxtaposition of delicate lyrical delivery to the screamo-esque is bound to charge the room. SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE have truly come into their own, perfecting the merger of indie band elements with experimental electronic dissonance that combine to produce an album that often makes your hairs stand on end. And if an album doesn’t make your hairs stand on end, then why are you listening to it, ey?

Rating

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Daisy Woodley

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