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Is It Worth It? Have A Nice Life’s Deathconsciousness

Hailey Spaeth

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By Shaan Dahar ’18, Contributor

Have A Nice Life are Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga, and these are the first lyrics of Deathconsciousness, their concept double album debut, coming at the end of the first track: “A quick one before the eternal worm devours Connecticut.” 7 minutes of a lonely guitar arpeggio and mournful synths from a toy piano lead up to this sentence, and the very tone encapsulates the hopelessness and nihilism that populates this record.

The pacing of the record is the first thing you’ll notice: the two CD’s of this double album are separately named “The Plow That Broke the Plains” and “The Future” respectively, and the sonic texture of each side reflects this. “The Future” is much more sci-fi based in its metaphors and themes than “Plow.” It even has a song about the film The Terminator. Generally, double albums have filler to justify its run-time, but, aside from one song or two that may meander for a bit too long, Have A Nice Life keeps the songwriting varied to keep your attention throughout the record.

The record comes packaged with a 75+ page essay which details the story of Antiochus, a figurehead of an extremely nihilistic sect of Christianity. This essay ties into the story that this album tries to tell. It’s not required to read before jumping into this album, but it is a nice touch and adds to the weight of all the lyrics. Even without the context, the lyrics are understandable, and at times, catchy. On the first true song of the record, “Bloodhail”, Dan and Tim sing “We kill everyone with arrowheads, arrowheads, arrowheads.” “Arrowheads” is repeated to the point where it gets stuck in your head for a day or two.

It’s worth mentioning that “Bloodhail” is a song about humanity building a human staircase for a hunter to climb to heaven and kill God with arrowheads, a rather dark topic for such a catchy song. Funny how a record that explores such dark themes uses such a variety of sonic tones to convey it with. An electric bass, electric guitar, field recordings, electronic blips and beats, and even unexplainable voices that the band recorded in their apartment permeate the record. The production is very lo-fi, which adds to the dreary atmosphere. The band toys with the genres of post-punk, shoegaze, noise, black metal, folk music, and a bit of ambient. These all combine to create a unique sound. “Waiting for Black Metal Records to Come in the Mail” utilizes both hard hitting, industrial-like drumbeats, and ambient synths to concoct a rocking, upbeat tune about control and power: “Giving us all the disease, but not the vaccine.” Similarly, album highlight “I Don’t Love” uses noise as the foundation of the track’s melody, and somehow creates a rather serene, beautiful, and emotional track reflecting on emotional emptiness: “I don’t love. I don’t feel anything where this love should be.”

Then there’s the album’s final track, “Earthmover.” It’s garnered a reputation as “one of the best tracks ever made” from people who’ve listened to the album. Even so, this skeptical reviewer wasn’t convinced that the praise wasn’t just hyperbole, especially when considering that the website, 4chan, known for some of its less-than-mature users, was where the album first became popular. With a final track bearing such a name, and given the bleak nature of the rest of the album, one should expect “Earthmover” to be a very heavy track– so the entrance of quiet acoustic guitars and singing is initially surprising. After a few lines of the verse, the distortion kicks in and a noisy wall of guitar and slow, driving drums hit your ears like a boulder. The chorus of “More than a symbol / More than I bargained for” is rather sorrowful, a reflection on burden.

At the end of the 2nd chorus, the guitars slowly fade back to acoustic, and Dan begins to sing. “An army of the golems is stalking now, the heart’s lands / eating all reality / producing only dust and sand.” At this point, Tim joins in, creating a chorus like effect, the both nearly screaming the lyrics with all their hearts. “Nothing hurts them / Nothing gets under their stone skin / and when their earthen mouths will open up / just what will come out / but “we wish we were dead.””

All noise cuts out for a few seconds, and you think the song is finally over.

Three piano notes play.

Then IT happens.

Roaring guitar and bass enter, creating a beautiful brick wall of sound while the piano, now barely audible, accompanies them. Drums enter in again, now faster. After a few minutes, the guitar dies out, leaving the synths, piano, and drums to follow the gargantuan, noisy bass still going. Finally, at 11 mins, the bass note changes to some unrecognizable feedback-like noise, and cuts out with the rest of the instruments, closing the record. That unrecognizable noise was Tim throwing the bass down onto the ground, and walking out of the studio from the sheer emotion of the song.

This is why “Earthmover” is considered to be one of the greatest tracks ever made by people who’ve heard it.

This is why you need to listen to Deathconsciousness.

 

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Is It Worth It? Have A Nice Life’s Deathconsciousness