Final’s genesis was in the early 1980’s and is actually one of Justin Broadrick’s original bands existing before Napalm Death and any other of his projects such GodFlesh, Techno Animal or more recently Jesu. Incidentally, to give a little context there is an interview available on the net from a Dutch Fanzine talking to Justin while on one of his first tours with Final in 1985 – where and when he is broached about the subject of ignorant fans, he simply states… “they can all fuck off and die… I’m a bit of an anarchist really”. Funny shit. I’m guessing Broadrick’s chilled out a bit since then but Final:3, Final’s third album, is still rooted in the original ‘Final sound’ that finds it source in industrial manipulation of electronic and sonic wizardry, welded to a metal aesthetics. Recorded between 2000 and 2005, Final:3 is closest in sound to Jesu, exhibiting a hugely precise ear for distorted bleeps and ringtones, retorted guitars and subterranean bass frequencies but with an overall sound that far more delicate and well… ambient.
First things first, there’s a hell of a lot of material here — this is a double album with both sides weighing in at over seventy minutes — the sheer volume of material combined with the dense nature of the majority of tracks means that there will be those that simply can’t stomach this. Good thing, bad thing? I dunno… but I would suggest that this shit is worth rationing. Rather than easily disposable side project, Final is most definitely Broadrick’s ‘baby’ and we are alerted to this not just through the delicate and precise composition of the tracks but also by their names, “Seasick”, “We glowed”, “Sorry” etc that point towards an emotional sentiment uncommon among the land of drone-metal.
These tracks are meticulously precise.
Almost like an architect Broadrick sets about building a series of minute soundscapes, at times above Fennesz style fed guitars and at other times around distant smouldering drum loops that seem to be orchestrating exact emotions, hence the beautiful ambience that seeps in. “Seasick” on the first disc is a direct example of this with a quiet synthy guitar in the background that occassionaly fizzes as Broadrick messes around with its lead feedback, anchored around a continuously eerie blip, you could be at sea or you could simply be in a coma. Elsewhere “Laughing stock” is Jesu-like in the faint tingling of a strangled melody and very much My Bloody Valentine-like in the ‘shimmering guitar played in a vacuum’ that forms the basis for the song. These tracks are meticulously precise in the way melodies are delayed, drums are taken in and out of the mix, volumes are shifted and bleeps and drones are left to play out against each other. It is as if each individual track is going through a process of fractional distillation, Broadrick below, with his underground lab full of sounds all ready for cultivation. Yet, the precise compositional nature belies a sense of control because the very ambience of most of these tracks is quite the opposite, encompassing a world where we seem to drift uneasily, sometimes too freely or left alone in an iron set claustrophobia. “Spinning Top” and “Free” both illuminate this feeling of inertia. One of the longest tracks on the album, “Spinning Top”, combines swirling drones with flickering neon ringtones that come in and out of time. As the song progresses Broadrick introduces little lasers thats surgical qualities are at odds with the loose drones and ringtones before slowly stripping back every sound until we are left with nothing. Equally on “Free”, the soft drones are backed this time by a distant metallic percussion, and it is this percussion, despite its distance, that becomes the focus of our ears. The rustic monotony of the percussion seems to be at odds with the title of the song — the percussion sounds like someone attempting to smash their way through a reinforced cage.
It is the conflict of sounds rather than the notes played that provide the real melodies, which all in all give each melody a stronger hypnotic quality to them.
Final is however, not all experimental industrial ambiance, as we might er put it. A lot of it conveys the current vogue for making basses sound like guitars and guitars like pianos etc. to create out of sync little ditties such “Long Lost” and “Trees”. “Long Lost” incorporates what might be an electrical acoustic thats tuning makes it sound like a piano. In “Long Lost” the initial part of the melody played by the guitar is then looped back against it through some strings and then later dirtied by another de-tuned guitar. Similarly on “Trees”, Broadrick is playing a guitar through some sort of effects pedal that gives it a cheap casio synth sound that is left to resonate around a single humming bass note. In each of these songs it is the conflict of sounds, for example the muzak qualities of the guitar sound against the conventional bass in “Trees”, rather than the notes played that provide the real melodies, which all in all give each melody a stronger hypnotic quality to them.
For Jesu fans this album will provide an interesting insight into the development of Jesu’s sound, with a lot of the sounds here providing the palette for the band, just on a smaller scale. Listening to Final:3 there is little to be at odds here with, perhaps we could do without the cheesey uplifting synths that mark the end of each disc – this is no Ibiza ‘92 – but apart from that minor indiscretion, we’d hope that Broadrick’s ‘baby’ keeps growing and growing.