The Illness A Monument To Our Gilded Age

The IllnessA Monument To Our Gilded Age
Formed in 2008 and based in San Francisco, CA, the Illness illustrated their press kit with a full comic strip detailing their origin story, something they called "a pictorial biography." In this comic, when the band members meet, the music turns them into aliens and monsters, transforming their ordinary human skin into the strangeness underneath. The Illness call themselves progressive sludge, which doesn't even begin to express the complexity of A Monument To Our Gilded Age. The jazzy riffs can be oddly sweet and lulling, almost soporific, but then build to a brooding heaviness that moves quickly from soothing to urgent and compelling. The tracks transform as you listen, like "Fire Escape," which starts smooth, gradually becomes noisier, fractures apart and then comes back together, guitars wailing in counterpoint over the controlled detonation of the drums. Two of the strongest and strangest pieces on the album are paired together. "Krakatoa" combines a demonstration of the Illness's instrumental sophistication, especially when it comes to the guitar work, with poignant, yearning emotion. Then, after a moody intro filled with the sound of rainfall, "Misanthropy" showcases noisy, warbling strings and screaming vocals. Versatile and flexible, playful and sophisticated, the Illness are as smart as they are skilful. A Monument To Our Gilded Age combines jazz-influenced progressive metal with something many similar bands miss: genuine energy and brutality. (Independent)