HEALTH - VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

HEALTH - VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR

by Tim Sentz Rating:6 Release Date:2019-02-08
HEALTH - VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR
HEALTH - VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR

Noise-rock never really got its chance to shine, in my opinion. There were a few acts that managed to get popular, but the scene never really captured the audience it deserved. Nowadays, it’s morphed from the screeching sounds of Sister-era Sonic Youth, and anything by the Jesus Lizard, to a more industrial mangled sound, a hybrid of noise and electronic. Look no further than Death From Above (1979) when it comes to the newest offering from HEALTH. VOL 4 :: Slaves of Fear is their newest collection of dance-punk, and it comes to us with more pop melodies than their last outing.

This hybrid of noise/dance music has been in the DNA of HEALTH for the last decade, but their beginnings were harder to digest because of sparse lyricism and hard stops in their music. “Feel Nothing” is the mat their most poppy-sounding to me. This isn’t a bad stretch for them to make, 2015’s Death Magic started them on this path, and Slaves of Fear is just a continuation of that sound, with a bit more accessibility. HEALTH gives an admirable push to the dance-punk aesthetic that DFA has been striving for since 2004.

The only setback is that it doesn’t really make for an interesting listen. Sure, there are head bopping moments, with some juicy guitar lines like in “Black Static” which sounds like it needs to be in a Trent Reznor soundtrack at some point. And that’s the thing, Slaves of Fear feels tailored for dance-floors rather than individual consumption. This is the direction HEALTH has moved in, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Their debut self-titled album from 2007 gave bits and pieces, strands of their direction, and it made for a more compelling listen. Slaves of Fear continues to push further from that, and it’s not a fault, just a warning.

The new direction gives way to some bangers and some duds. “Loss Deluxe” is a bit muted compared to the rest of the record, and while “NC-17” has a title that intrigues, it ends up being the bathroom break of the album. At over 38 minutes, Slaves of Fear loses steam quickly, but in its individual moments, it can still get folks to have some fun.

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