Lament Cityscape – A Darker Discharge Review

Wyoming, famously, hosts some of the United States’ most beautiful nature preserves—also famously it lacks urban comforts and is one of the two rectangular states. This expansive, rural landscape shapes an existence and mindset that’s decidedly different from the metropolitan portrait of tap-to-pay cafes, melting pot crowds, and city-speed sprawl. For better or worse, Mike McClatchey has called Buffalo, Wyoming temporarily home—a home that has fueled his boiled-over frustrations into this more solo edition of Lament Cityscape, A Darker Discharge. Using only drum programming, (many) simulated instruments and patches, and human voices, this newest expression captures the hamperings of an undesirable existence in one part horror film score, one part industrial metal. Does this blink of an album produce enough emotional ooze to stain the mind and ears?

In addition to its instrumental adventurousness, A Darker Discharge carries a heavy ambition in its relative brevity compared to Lament Cityscape’s past lamentations. Similar to their prior outings, Lament Cityscape has crafted this newest opus heavily in the shadow of industrial giants like Godflesh, Jesu, and Nine Inch Nails. Yet almost in defiance of their past work, most tracks here barely crack the four-minute mark—McClatchey has distilled the post-metal expansions of their back-catalog into jolts of distorted tumult. But don’t mistake the shortened runtime for a simpler album—McClatchy has also called in some friends to help bake layer after layer of modeled madness into this cake of nightmares. Though A Darker Discharge runs at an uncharacteristic 24 minutes front-to-back (less than half the runtime of their debut full-length), it takes many more than that to uncover every rotten nook and crumbling cranny in this dusty, electronic labyrinth.

Lament Cityscape wrings resentment out of every second with heavy industrial squeezes and gothy synthwave twists. Emulsified in pulsing kickwork from the Streetcleaner school of pounding, McClatchey wastes no time rendering a clamor confit with the intro trio of grind-length industrial pulses. Similarly, later tracks “The Under Dark” and “Part of the Mother” continue the elements of concrete-crushing, subwoofer-stifling kicks against alien “guitar” lines that pierce and pummel sanity. These towering moments of rage stand in stark contrast to the moodier showpieces that reek of purple fog and patchouli (“Innocence of Shared Experiences,” “Where the Walls Used to Be”). McClatchy even drops into a reverb-soaked, static-crackled clean croon to recite the mauled mantras highlighting “you’ll never know” and “keep going” to pull us deeper into a wandering state.

And yet the sense of pacing on this album remains jarring against the overall experience of A Darker Discharge, which ultimately limits the impact of key moments. It took some time for me to even want to accept the brakes on the first tempo crash of the album—the sudden simmer of “Innocence of Shared Experiences.” Taking up more time than the three tracks that lead to it, the whiplash of hazy synths after the marching mechanical machinations steered me off course more times than it landed. And after that first reversal from ruin to rumination, the album zig-zags between the two sides of the Broadrick coin—Godflesh tramplings and Jesu meanderings—making it hard to find a real groove in the mechanical mire. By the time the album finds its feet with the poetically haunting closer “Part of the Mother,” it’s already ended.

For all of the immediacy and exploration presented on A Darker Discharge, I still feel like I’m missing something. Maybe that feeling of an unheard desire is the entire point, but I can’t help but long for the powerful crunch of strings screaming through an amp, and the tease of catharsis has me hoping for more of the pneumatic palpitations of McClatchy’s most powerful rhythms. Nonetheless, he has made himself heard and paved an exciting new path for Lament Cityscape. I hope the short-form assaults are not just a result of pure challenge and become a fixture of a new sound. With a little more time, and maybe a few more friends, Lament Cityscape may realize an even stronger win. 

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 29th, 2022

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