Second Opinion: Have A Nice Life – Deathconsciousness

As one of our most popular reviews, Have A Nice Life’s double album debut seems like a nice place for a “Second Opinion”. The previous review states that Deathconsciousness is a promising album that fails to develop beyond it’s core ideals for anything other than brief moments, and this still holds true. However, I am under the impression that flaws and all, this album is not simply a missed opportunity: this album is the defining album of shoegaze and black metal hybrids.

Like most other hybrids like Les Discrets or to a lesser extent The Body, Have A Nice Life cannot be defined by the conventional “music adding machine”, i.e. it is an album that doesn’t so much bend genres as simply not belong to them. What the album is however is dark, long, and thick with an atmosphere that rarely ever drifts miserable or dreadful. It’s pessimistic and pathetic and it wallows in these puddles of negativity for nearly two hours. Take it from us, these will be the longest two hours you’re likely to experience in music. You see, some albums are great because they make time fly easily, so you don’t notice that Daydream Nation or Lonesome Crowded West take 70 minutes to finish because they’re dynamic enough to distract it. Deathconsciousness is not one of those albums.

It drifts along at a glacial pace, a pace that could be unironically referred to as a dirge. The first song, “A Quick One Before the Eternal Worm Devours Connecticut”, is an introduction of sorts, it’s lonely guitar line rarely changing, it’s stark atmosphere lingering like fog on a cold afternoon. With moments like this, songs like “Bloodhail”and “Hunter” sound much more dynamic in comparison, but no less brooding. The first disc is much slower and much more down-tempo in comparison to the second, which contains most of the albums quicker, catchier songs. However, like most good double albums, the first disc nor the second is skippable; if you want a quick burst of their more energetic material, the second disc is the obvious choice, but the album functions much better as a whole.

It of course is not without it’s problems, however, the severity of these problems will depend person to person. Every inherent “flaw” of the album is also a potential strength to another; for example, the album, as previously mentioned, is long. It is slow. It is stark. All of these things could grate on one listener, however to me, I like that sort of thing. The album simply works better because it is slow and contemplative. It’s immersive and slowly wanders from one melody to the next, and when the big moment hits 6 minutes into “Hunter”, there isn’t much else like. It sounds as if the Cure ripping themselves apart. It sounds immense.

If you’re anything like me, and you have the time and patience, Deathconsciousness is worth seeking out. Yes it’s slow and most people equate slow to boring, and I can’t particularly fault them for that, but the time spent with this album will give a listen that you aren’t likely to hear again. It’s a one-of-a-kind album, something that needs to be heard to be believed. Have A Nice Life aren’t likely to win points with the mainstream, but for underground music fans, this is a rare album that succeeds not only due to it’s modest mechanics, but it’s unique ability to make misery sound so incredible and it’s aspirations to sound bigger than life itself, baggage and all.

by Trevor “Albummover” Johnson

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