dälek – «Endangered Philosophies»

In the about section of this site, it says that this space will not focus on album reviews. This text is in obvious contradiction with this intent. However, the intent is exactly that, not a rule.

Artwork of «Endangered Philosophies» by Paul Romano.

As soon as «Echoes Of…» starts, dälek engulfs the listener in one of the heaviest opening riffs we’ve heard all year. The beat that soon follows is equally crushing. Respite? It will not be found in either lyrics or their delivery, with Will Brooks instead offering the rallying cry of «Endangered Philosophies» in appropriate matter-of-fact manner, “my people won’t kneel! (…) trust, we’ll never kneel!” Songs like the opener and «The Son Of Immigrants» bring the heaviness that we have come to expect from the trio; more importantly, they carry the asphyxiating aura their subject matter demands. In the latter, Brooks begins with a story that is as sad as it is too common nowadays “Seen my Pops surrounded by cops with guns drawn // Epitaphs blasted from lips, they lungs torn // Eyes blood red from hatred // Mistaken identity // But melanined equated enemy”. It soon shifts towards a more directed message “I’m your worst nightmare // Educated and born here // Prepared for warfare // We ain’t going nowhere”. That this is all rather unfortunate, that common human decency should have been enough to avoid this climate is reflected upon the tone of the instrumental, one of absolute melancholy.

One of the key points of «Endangered Philosophies» is that the use of noise-inspired walls of sound is sparser than in «Asphalt For Eden». Instrumentally, it is both more balanced and more diverse, covering a wide a range of moods and tones in coherent manner. You never get the feeling that the instrumental goes somewhere just for the sake of going there. «Beyond the Madness» and «Battlecries» are sorrow turned song, «Sacrifice» and «Nothing Stays Permanent» carry subtle jazzy undertones in menacing fashion, and a «A Collective Cancelled Thought» brings back the noise explorations on its first half, only to drop an industrial-leaning beat on its second. Throughout it all, it’s Brooks lyricism and wholehearted delivery thereof that ties it all together. Once you’ve gotten through its many moods and vocal modes of delivery, once you’ve understood the explicit and the implicit messages carried by the words, it becomes clear that «Endangered Philosophies» is not a record borne out of a desire to create music that one likes, but rather of necessity. A delayed, suppressed, and absolutely necessary scream in the midst of madness.

This has gotta change…” is the last thing you’ll hear and it is a fitting way to end, really. This is not only a considerable return to form by dälek, but arguably the most faithful representation the last year and a half has found in artistic expression, and undoubtedly one of the albums of the year.

«Endangered Philosophies» was released on September 1 by Ipecac.

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