Maybe I’m wrong, but I have the impression that across 2018 we’ve encountered a particularly high number of works published by historical bands, I mean those formations having careers that approach and sometimes exceed thirty years. Therapy?, from Northern Ireland, will celebrate next year the milestone of thirty years of activity, and in preparation of this event they’ve released in 2018 a brand new record, Cleave, which is the fifteenth studio album of their extensive discography.
Everytime I find myself in front of a new album from one of the bands which played the soundtrack of my teenager phase, my reactions are mixed. On one hand there is evidently the curiosity to discover which road has been taken by the band and also the expectations to feel once again the same emotions that these musicians gave me when I was “young”. On the other hand there is the unavoidable skepticism due to the fact that the world of metal and rock have changed dramatically compared to the 90s and these historical bands face physiological difficulties when they try to be still significant and influential in modern days.
The experience of going through the 32 minutes of Cleave has basically confirmed both the expectations and the prejudices I mentioned before. A positive aspect that is confirmed in Therapy?’s new LP is the anarchy they have always demonstrated with respect to the idea of adhering to a single pre-established genre of music. As was the case with their early works, Theraphy?’s music is definitely heavy to be simply “rock”, but at the same time it remains too light to be “metal”. This middle ground is where the three North Irish rockers have produced their most beautiful works, and this is where they still like to play today. A song like Success? Success Is Survival (the fifth track of the new album) is the perfect example: it begins with a groovy riff of great effect and power, but it then arrives to a chorus of disarming lightness, as if we’re in front of a band of high school students playing punk rock in the garage.
Another aspect that I appreciate in Cleave, although even this one is connected with my past of metalhead, is the frequent recourse to that fantastic style of riffing where powerful guitar chords are combined with clean and “funky” bass lines, something which emerged in the early 90s and that characterized some of the best albums of that time (you can think of the songs form Prong’s Prove you Wrong, to better understand what I mean). The song Dumbdown shows very well this kind of riffing.
On the negative side, this album doesn’t present in my oponion any memorable song, nothing that really remains in our mind after we shut off the player.
Therapy? is a band of talented musicians, there is no doubt about it and they have clearly demonstrated their skills in many phases of their long career. But I have sincere doubts that without any particulary catchy song they can conquer the new generations of listeners. Especially in these modern day where the casual listeners are less prepared to have surprises in the music they listen to.
Cleave can be streamed from Spotify. My favorite songs from the LP are Kakistocracy and Dumbdown.