Justin Schlosberg – All
1.) This is How it Ends
2.) Accidents Happen
3.) Corruption of the Human Heart
4.) Put Your Hands Together
5.) You Killed My Love
As a reviewer, you find yourself braced and ready for all sorts to come in each month. Here comes a brutal slam death metal debut, now a throwback 70s hard rock EP, alongside the latest release from an avant-garde post-rock artist. You get all sorts, including some outside your typical comfort zone.
This is generally fine, but at times you get something so outside your usual listening pool, you don’t even have proper context for it. Such is the case with August Spies’ Corruption of the Human Heart.
To be clear from the off, it’s not outside of the norm in the sense of being bad, nor especially outlandish or experimental. But rather than the more typical rock, metal or punk releases that come my way, this one really fits into more of an adult contemporary, singer-songwriter region. It’s soft, mellow, soothing music, generally under the “pop” umbrella, but much more laid-back and placid than the bouncy mass-market style that might come to mind with that label.
The piano is the dominant (if such a word even fits with music this laid back) instrument here, accompanied by ambient sounds, percussion and Justin Schlosberg’s harrowed vocals. The mood is a sad, lamenting one; not quite plumbing the depths of sorrow like something Gothic or doom-y, but certainly fitting for a rainy day of introspection and regrets. Closing track “You Killed My Love” is as anguished and hopeless as the title implies.
The end result is certainly emotional, and clearly a lot of real heart went into this. But it’s also hard to balance that, on a personal level, with just how outside the norm this is for me. It doesn’t sound bad, certainly. But I realise, thinking on that, that I really don’t know what qualifies as good or bad in this vein of music, as I have next to no frame of reference. The only thing I can talk about with any degree of confidence is my own purely personal enjoyment, and on that level, Corruption of the Human Heart didn’t do much for me. I can appreciate it and the work that went into it, and that definitely counts for something, but, again, on a purely personal level, I found the attempts to craft an immersive atmosphere too repetitive and lacking in real musical meat. But this might prove more rewarding for those into their morose singer-songwriters.