La Dispute – Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair
Record Label: No Sleep Records
Release Date: November 11, 2008
A man walks to the edge of the river. He peers into its rushing waters. The rain pours harder, creating an abyss where there shouldn’t be. He’s looking for something, someone. And while he’s hopeful, he knows the chances of survival are slim in such dire circumstances. A warm breeze blows over him, but all he can feel is the chill of loss. “She’ll never come back,” he repeats to himself over and over. His incessant talking evolves into maniacal screams. They ooze of heartbreak: “I think I saw you in my sleep, darling / I think I saw you in my dreams / You were stitching up the seams / On every broken promise that your body couldn’t keep.” A gray sky is his only comfort. There’s hope in the beyond, but for now all he feels is a “precious pain.”
Such loss brings out a ferocity the man has not experienced before. His anger and lack of understanding manifests itself in the form of throat-ripping screams and pounding, pissed-off guitars (“New Storms for Older Lovers”). It becomes angry spoken word reeking of a caged reality: “Damaged Goods” and its pessimistic view of constant recreation, “Now at the end of everyday / I lie awake at night / And wait to feel the wires of my brain / Get cut and quietly rearranged.” This mixture of brutality and smooth technicality becomes a rushing steam train. Even the quieter moments (like handclap-laden “Fall Down, Never Get Back Up Again”) barely encase the insanity: “And we will hear the seraphs cry / They still envy you and I.” This is only another opportunity to channel the pain, and it’s a breather before metal riffs soar over marching-to-hell drums (“Bury Your Flame”).
The man does not truly know what he wants. He believes Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair lie answers. If he must ultimately drown to find them, so be it: “We found out that we’re only layers of skin hiding bones!” You may see this schizophrenic fellow pacing back and forth, clearly at odds with himself (“Last Blues for Bloody Knuckles”): “My precious wife / I am in shambles / I am crumbling.” He seems to be calming, possibly accepting the circumstances. As riffs soar towards the infinite sky, they destructively descend in force mere moments before reaching their goal. The ringing is almost soothing as they fall away to be born again in the man’s anger. But his anguish has barely begun (“The Castle Builders”). Perhaps he has come to terms with her fate: “They say that death is not a problem / It’s a promise / I can only say for sure that when it makes your bed / I’ll still kiss your head ‘goodnight.’” But what of his own?
Each moment of uncertainty or fervor brings the man one step closer to the epiphanic “The Last Lost Continent.” Twelve minutes is scarcely enough time to finish his tale; meaty screams charge forth over wiry, fragile guitar licks. Each spit-out word builds upon itself into pulsing, fancy drums. Are the clouds finally parting (“Too long you’ve torn us into pieces / Firmly held onto our wrists / Today I bury you in me”)? Well, yes, but you can’t tell from the crazed breakdown. And then, in one of the more subdued and rapid-fire sections, we hear the man figure it all out. If a lowly narrator such as myself were to divulge such a thing, strike me dead. The solitude seems to be over as we hear camaraderie through gang-vocals: “Though we’re not sure where we’ll go, we keep our hopes up.”
Throughout the destruction, pain, longing and insecurity, we are still presented with a feeling of optimism. La Dispute (led by wordsmith Jordan Dreyer, aka “The Man”) have fused diversity and meaningfulness into an album that surges forward without ever looking back. It’s not just a record, but rather this is a mantra to a woe-is-me music generation. You don’t have to live it, but you should definitely respect Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair.
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I sure hope they don't get huge. Screaming is cool when its done tastefully, not the way this guy does it. Please put some vocal melodies together, and I wish people would stop bring up ATD-I, ATD-I had melody in their vocals, a lot of it. There aren't any melodies here, at all, whatsoever in the vocals.