CD, Line Out Records, 2008
‘Acedia’ means “spiritual torpor and apathy” or, more elegantly put, “ennui.” I don’t know if that’s what inspired the History of Guns collective to create the songs on this album and I have to say it doesn’t really matter. One thing is certain, though: “Acedia” is not exactly going to cause apathy, or the slightest ennui, should you decide to give it a spin. ”
Acedia,” the third ‘proper’ album by History of Guns, continues the path this cross-genre UK band have been threading, mixing electronics (of the electro-industrial kind) with rock (especially punk) and this time focusing heavily on guitars. The result is actually quite appealing, if not terribly original. In most tunes there’s the usual dark atmosphere that might scare some listeners away, but it combines very well with the angry guitar riffing and the groovy rhythms.
“Acedia” kicks off with “Born, Brutalised, Bought then Buried,” setting the tone for the album: groovy drum rhythms, heavy, punkish, yet carefully crafted, guitar riffs and discrete electronics gluing, so to speak, the different elements together. ”
It’s Easy (To Go Blind),” the second song on the album, is a raw, in-your-face track that paves the way for one of the albums best moments: “…But I’ll Be Waiting,” which at times reminds me of 80s semi-cult band Danse Society, and ends with an almost minimal techno beat, would play nicely in certain underground clubs. “Exhaust Fumes” is another high on this album; haunted by the ghost of Peter Murphy over a tribal rhythm and metallic bass and guitar riff, it is one of the record’s darkest songs. Other “ghosts” haunting “Acedia” would be Joy Division, especially the final moments of “What Have They Done To Us?,” and the Dead Kennedys in “Never Forgive You.” “No Eternal Reward” will most probably work better when played live.
“Drag On,” a personal favourite of mine, starts off with a dub/reggae feeling that is maintained all the way through the song. It would be a great way to finish this album, certainly better than “Killing Myself Until Die,” one of the album’s weakest moments, despite its promising beginning. Another less achieved moment on this album is “Empty Eyes,” as there’s something in the heaviest section that doesn’t quite work and spoils an otherwise very effective song.
Overall, “Acedia” sounds almost exactly like what one might have imagined, back in the day, punk rock should be in the twenty-first century. Too bad, most punk rockers never looked beyond their narrow alleys, which History of Guns have clearly done. Maybe because they’re not exactly punk rockers.
— João Gonçalves