Indian - Guiltless

Relapse Records
Produced by Sanford Parker

Guiltless is the Relapse Records debut for Chicago doom quintet Indian, after having released a full-length album and several EP's on Seventh Rule Recordings. Though they have switched labels, the band's albums continue to be produced by Sanford Parker (Minsk, Unearthly Trance), who has become famous both as a producer and musician for his signature lo-fi sound. However, Guiltless is a decidedly cleaner album than all of its predecessors, and as such it represents somewhat of a new chapter in this maturing doom band's catalog.

Up to this point, it would seem that Indian's simply-stated sole mission in life was to bludgeon the listener to death with some of the heaviest riffs and most lethal rhythmic pounding which has ever been committed to tape - and this was fine with many of the bands' fans, who gladly paid for the privilege both live and on album. However, this rather one-dimensional approach - albeit highly effective - would likely only have lasted for a limited amount of time before even the healthiest of appetites for brutality would have been satiated. Enter Guiltless.

Seemingly, this shrewd group of musicians has sensed or anticipated this need for added dimension - for this new release reflects some serious growth both in terms of songwriting as well as musical approach. Not only are the key factors to Indian's previous success still apparent on this album (e.g., heavy riffs, a severely sludgy bottom end, strangled vocals, a pace which sometimes slows to a virtual death dirge, and a nearly overwhelming atmosphere of fear and dread), but some new elements have been expertly woven into the overall mix as well.

One example of this is the noticeable increase in the amount of noise that is present in many of the album's tracks. Apparently this is band member Sean Patton's sole job - and he has definitely earned his keep on Guiltless. One of the things that makes this album great is that, in spite of the fact that there many more layers on this album in terms of sound, the overall production actually seems cleaner. One way of describing this is that it's the sonic equivalent of the old adage "a place for everything, and everything in its place". The songs are denser than ever - which often adds an extra layer of heft to the overall proceedings - yet at the same time, the delivery still comes across as polished and concise.

Another example of a new element which has been added to this band's sound is the distinct presence of a slightly blackened tone to a few of the songs - especially the second track The Fate Before Fate, which features not only a notably blackened-sounding guitar tone, but also some slightly revised vocals which are reminiscent of black metal outfits with extreme vocals such as Ludicra, Wolves In The Throne Room or Cobalt. In the past, the tone of Indian's music has been a slow and steady diet of high-calorie doom/drone, but this album shows that they are capable of much more than this.

The real coup de grĂ¢ce here, though, is the fact that, for all of the sludgy, doomy, wall-of-sound goodness which is packed into this album's mere forty-one minutes, the whole thing just seems to come across as being catchier than ever. At first, this may seem a bit counterintuitive, but the previously mentioned mastery of production - not to mention the painstaking attention to detail and the level of overall care with which these songs are written, performed and recorded - means that the listener can truly hear every single nuance of the songs as never before. Thus, the underlying melodies of the songs shine through in a way that Indian fans have never heard with this band's material, and the songs are therefore both more appealing and more memorable than ever.

“ nearly overwhelming atmosphere ”

Tracklist: No Grace / The Fate Before Fate / Guiltless / Guilty / The End of Truth / Supplicants / Benality

Written by Chris Poling
More: 2011, Albums, Sludge,

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