Published Feb 06, 2019HEALTH are not a band that fans would associate with subtlety. Their songs are spelled in all caps and they are loud, a band that seem most comfortable wielding a sonic sledgehammer. Still, like a veteran construction worker, they have gained experience over time that allows them to wield their heavy tools with nuanced ease.
In many ways, VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR picks up from where their 2015 album Death Magic left off. If you were a fan of the single "Stonefist" from that album, the second track on SLAVES "FEEL NOTHING" has a similar vibe. HEALTH are still very capable of smashing your ears with a heavy synth and guitar lead, backed up machine-gun rhythms and four-on-the-floor drums.
Fortunately, they have developed their sound as well. "NC-17" brings Arabic-tinged rhythms, pushed forward with the band's characteristic intensity. "RAT WARS" is something like a blend of Purity Ring and the Haxan Cloak. Title track "SLAVES OF FEAR" makes good use of a softer guitar melody that gives much more intensity to its pounding heavy chorus. Lyrically, the album seems concerned with the grimness of the era we are living in — Jake Duzsik's breathy, mid-high range vocals sound like a prophet of doom. On "LOSS DELUXE" he warns "there's no way to fight the new diseases" and on "NC-17" we hear "I wonder why we try at all."
The grimness of the lyrics works, and for fans of HEALTH and their style this is a worthwhile listen. (Loma Vista)