Album Review: Planning For Burial – Below The House

Album Review: Planning For Burial – Below The House

Planning For Burial
Below the House
(The Flenser)

There isn’t a glimmer of sun on Below the House, the latest from post-metal outfit, Planning For Burial. Think of the gloom of a UV index of 0.

In this world, sunglasses are merely cosmetic.

The hints of cheerlessness should come as no surprise. Throughout the record, I continually conjured up vivid images of a kind of pestilent wintertime death that begins in the soil, born in the rush of cold, fetid air. Perhaps the album title implies that there is a person being interred. Perhaps they met with a violent fate.

Planning For Burial is the alter ego of Scranton, Pennsylvania artist Thom Wasluck, a devilish creator who plays and records all instruments. Wasluck has been prolific in the studio over these last couple of years, using Bandcamp as a platform for spreading his peculiar brand of darkness to some grassroots acclaim (it’s curious to not that he has also distributed music through cassette and floppy computer disk).

Sampling their catalog (which ranges back to 2005 with a debut album in 2009) it feels clear that Below the House is a culmination for the band’s early work. Wasluck drags his listener through a swamp of gloomy shoegaze and experimental metal, opening with a wash of gray guitars on “Whiskey & Wine” a song that contorts painfully, adding a few touches of delicate piano over the top for contrast. On “Warmth of You” Wasluck offers up his love of goth rock in a vaguely danceable mid-tempo beat, vocals sung in what I can only refer to as a “broken boy” vocal style. It’s obvious in his construct that the warmth he’s singing about is a past tense. The pair of “Dull Knife” tracks, which fill the second half of the record are outstanding, a grimy stick twist into the gut with guitars that are unsettling and voices bellowed out from a shallow grave.

It is wild to imagine that this depth comes out of one artist, the track “Threadbare” using the menace of churning guitars and a stream of painfully articulate piano. There is dynamism on this record that is unreal. Perhaps most the interesting touch on Below the House is the variation in vocal styles Wasluck employs (which gives the illusion of a bigger band) ranging from a screeching wail to a hushed, almost confessional utterance that is barely audible above the stormy mix of guitars and percussion.

For all the virtues that Below the House displays (and there are many) I end up wanting just a bit more in the end. My want comes, I think, out of reverence and because Wasluck pulled back the rock and offered such a thorough glimpse into his bag of influences. I wonder where an entire record, isolating one of these sounds would lead, say of his goth-metal inspirations. Regardless, I am curious to see where Wasluck follows up. Whether he chooses to shake off the shoegaze and go heavier, or he retreats further into his skin, teasing the violence that this album so deftly articulates, I’m there.

Purchase the album here.

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