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7.5/10 Joshua

LOCKED IN A VACANCY - It's Always Darkest - CD - Purity Records - 2006

review by: Joshua

Locked in a Vacancy is not so much a metalcore crew as a death metal mob rolled in sweat, dirt and other effluvia, lunging towards you with the same single-minded fury as one of the infected from the film "28 Days Later." Or is it the other way around? No matter. Whatís presented for your consideration in Itís Always DarkestÖ is as potent ó and dangerous ó as transporting a quart bottle of nitroglycerin down the front of your pants while running blindfolded through a field pock-marked with gopher holes. And youíd be a fool for passing up on such an opportunity.

Of course Locked in a Vacancy has got all the requisite tools: riffs indifferent to your pain, instrumental prowess that would make Ron Jeremy peer down at his organ with remorse, vocals capable of stripping paint, glue and tar from any surface to which it adheres and serpentine song structures that gleefully defy you to try and corral them. So, yeah, Locked in a Vacancy snarls, spits, kicks, punches and eye gouges with aplomb but in these days of snarling, spitting, kicking, punching and eye gouging over-saturation, those implements arenít particularly distinctive or effective unless you offer some counterbalance.

How does the band do it? Simple, by bending the rules. "Warmongers & Whoremongers" lulls you into thinking youíve got yet another melodic thrasher on your hands and then crushes that notion through sharp stop-start rhythms, a brief free-jazz interlude, sustained chords and an extended fadeout that devolves to pure noise. "The Death of Aslan" manages to out-Dillinger The Dillinger Escape Plan; fucked up and complicated, the track doesnít know if itís coming or going and couldnít care less whether you figure it out. And itís a veritable party time on the stomper "American History X," where the drums take the lead on this pogoing, punk rock stormer that dares to be ó gasp ó catchy, even as the song grows increasingly heavy and the tempo slows to a pugnacious near-crawl.

They play their trump card though on closer "The FDR At Twilight." Mid-tempo, rife with minor key melodies and mournful refrains, all bathed in a patina of fuzz and grime. At ten minutes, itís the perfect length, evoking a stroll down that Manhattan thoroughfare: The polluted East River on one side belching noxious odors, traffic moving its haphazard pace on the other, graffiti plasters the concrete overhangs on every block as you move through sharp bursts of wind that send trash eddying into a thousand dervishes.

Itís a gorgeously bleak tableau, buttressed against a falling sun casting burnt umber across ten thousand brick buildings while the electronic pulse that pendulums the track to a close moves in concert with the last gasp of daylight that yields fitfully to night. (7.5/10)


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