Album Review: The Living “Drinking From the Trough of a Tyrant’s Piss”

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Post-rock prides itself on creating massive soundscapes. When I think of post-rock, I
think of reverb drenched guitars painting a picture on a canvas provided by a pulsing rhythm
section. I think of soaring leads after builds that leave the listener feeling a variety of emotions.
This is the Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky approach that most people are familiar with. The
Living take a slightly different approach. Their newest record Drinking From The Trough Of A
Tyrant’s Piss has all of the soundscaping qualities you would expect, but it’s not afraid to draw
influence from other genres.

Album opener “Dirty Dreams” begins with a simple guitar riff accented by a droning
synthesizer in the background and a shimmering, underlying reverb. This sets the stage for
crooning vocals to come in front and center, the harmonies reminiscent of glassjaw’s Daryl
Palumbo. The subtle touches the bass and drums add to the song are never overwhelming, but
simply add to the atmosphere provided by the clean guitars and fuzzy synthesizers. The album
continues with “Vivaldi,” a track that truly highlights The Living’s strengths. The strong guitar
riffs present throughout the album, the pop-like approach to the album’s vocal hooks, the
intensity the rhythm section provides, it’s all captured perfectly in the song’s 5 minute run time.

If “Vivaldi” is the album’s best representation for its strengths, the following song
“Mask” is unfortunately the best representative for its weaknesses. The vocals here feel
uninspired when compared to what came previously and even what comes next on “Leaving”.
The song never truly goes anywhere and the song’s cliché lyrics (“I don’t want to wear a mask
anymore”) are a low point in an otherwise strong showing from The Living. There are other
moments that leave a bit to be desired such as the vocal delivery in sections of the title track, but
The Living and producer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Loma Prieta, Oathbreaker, among others)
have given us an album sure to please anyone looking for a more atmospheric approach to hard
rock.

 

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