Review: Cara Neir — Perpetual Despair is the Human Condition
I was not going to write about this album, in part because I’ve already written about Cara Neir this year. Shit, I wasn’t even going to listen to this. A few weeks ago I went on record saying my 2016 dance card was full and there was no room left in my life for this record. That is how I felt at the time: burnt out on new music. And then some asshole Time-Traveling Lizard dropped Perpetual Despair is the Human Condition in my lap and I listened to it and I knew instantly the magnitude of my mistake.
I was wrong and I apologize. To the members of Cara Neir. To their friends and families. To Jom Pooterson. And to all of you.
Let’s be blunt and work backward from there: In the current parlance of internet music fans, this album is fire. It’s a box of double-edged knives with no handles. It’s a bleeding heart nailed to a dead tree. It’s that pit of hypodermic needles that chick jumped into in the second installment of the dreadful Saw franchise. And in case you haven’t stabbed play on the sample below, it is progressive-minded black metal performed at breakneck blast and d-beat speeds. From start to finish the intensity skirts the critical limit—and never at the expense of detailed songwriting or an overarching sense of purpose.
What is going to happen to you when you press play? Will you fall into a pit of needles? Metaphorically, it is highly likely. You will feel the sting and the burn. But the sting and the burn will feel righteous and you will raise a fist in the air and bang your head and scream along and if you happen to be driving while listening you just might stomp on the accelerator and flip your car over the median and into oncoming traffic—just to achieve sweet release. If any of this happens, do not be alarmed.
In many ways Perpetual Despair is a continuation of what Cara Neir presented earlier this year on the Guilt and His Reflection split with Wildspeaker: a deft work of duality where dissonance dances with harmony; where ugliness and beauty coexist like victims of quantum entanglement; where light and dark nullify one another, releasing a prevailing gray. All of the basic sonic elements are still there: angular chords, needling tremolos, suave bass grooves and a relentless go-for-broke mentality. And yet this album marks a refocusing. Here Cara Neir have corralled some of their more experimental predilections in favor of spotlighting their blackened punk attack (no, I still have not settled on a genre tag; fuck you). The result is a more cohesive album and a much smoother ride, which somehow avoids the pitfall of monotony despite its rarely wavering tantrums. While I greatly enjoyed the compositional unpredictability of Guilt, I can see how some listeners could become overwhelmed or even baffled by the wealth of stylistic shifts. This time around you will be overwhelmed instead by Gary Brent’s endless treasure trove of tasty riffs. By Chris Francis’s awe-inspiring vocal histrionics. By that drum machine that rocks so hard you’ll take off your NO DRUM MACHINES IN BLACK METAL t-shirt.
But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of this dude instead:
4 OUT OV 5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL
Perpetual Despair is the Human Condition was released by Broken Limbs Recordings on October 14th, 2016. Purchase on cassette, vinyl or digital here. Ask Cara Neir what Cara Neir means here.