#ThemostBandcampGold-Sinister Vibes by Afraid
I have specifically not reviewed a lot of music that I loved just because I didn’t feel like my words were good enough to capture its flavor. Sometimes I really regret it, couldn’t let that happen with Sinister Vibes. I’ve been making a concerted effort to highlight more of the interesting music coming out of Portland, Maine and the reason I’ve taken such a vested interest is Sinister Vibes.
Afraid is a trio of guys from Portland but that’s all I know. I was knee deep in hip hop mixtape reviews needing some rock to spice up my playlist. This album became a touchstone I came back to all through 2015. A lot of the reviews on the album do a wonderful job describing how spooky it is but that’s not what is so interesting about it. As Riverbank Summer ’75 ends the song halts so wind can turn into ominous outro. It’s the kind of masterful world building that Black Sabbath used to do with rain sounds or wind.
Sure the first time you hear Acid King the organ is creepy and he’s talking about maggots singing, the chorus sounds like a chant you hear before a cult kills you, but the more you hear it the more impressive the overpowering mood becomes. This universe is so sharply defined you can see every inch of it vividly. The audio mix is so admirably done that no sound has to fight to be heard. Every note is born precious and striking only to crumble and fall away.
Visions from The Holy Cross Cemetery is stunning thick and soupy. Hometown Strangler doesn’t even really get interesting until a minute and a half in (nine minutes total). Sinister Vibes hits spooky on the head because its patient enough to know that spooky is something the music and the audience have to wait for; tension has to build. Every instrument is used to its greatest effect (example: Babyfangs ’77). The whole thing is a glorious experiment in doing what you want to do and having faith that the audience will catch up to it.
It was a year where we lost Lemmy, Bowie, and Alan Rickman three beloved entertainers. They were beloved because they represented an individual vision that you couldn’t get anywhere else. No one in the world would have played Hans Gruber like that or dedicated a rock anthem to their road crew. Sinister Vibes lit my fire for the same reason, after loving it I knew that my local scene included music as meticulous and pained as the 8 minute song Wonderland but I was also sure I wasn’t going to find anything the rest of the year like this album. It made me wonder how many other people living right near me were taking chances like this. The answer is still more than I would have thought but not enough.
stream or download Sinister Vibes below: