Discouraged Ones is incredibly important, and even more brave, but I do not like it that much, for which I feel guilty. Perhaps if they had written it ten years earlier I would have been strongly attracted, as I was, at that time, firmly in the grip of bands like The Cure. I have nothing but respect for the way in which they radically changed their sound after the first two (death metal) albums. I can only imagine how horrified fans must have been at the time. Yet, if I had to choose which better captures their genius I would not hesitate to choose it, as painful as that would be. Every album that follows is indebted to this droopy, sophmoric mess (the drum solo on “Nerve” is nothing short of embarrassing, not to mention the dreadful final track). On the other hand, it is here that “Gone” was conceived–a dark, brilliant song that, perhaps not coincedentally, comes to its perfect expression at the end of their career in the acoustic version on Sanctitude (as is true of “Day” and “Idle Blood”, which is inconceivable). The fact that it was the first time they had ever played it live is nothing short of beautiful. At their core they were never a death meal band. They were among the church fathers of doom.
I am also impressed with how Sanctitude captures their heaviness, without the distortion or drum set. It is a testimony to their craftsmanship as songwriters and musicians.
And yes, I know “Day” will forever be the achilles heel in my argument against the first two albums. What a gorgeous song.
“The One You Are Looking For is not Here” is the perfect ending. The fact that they had Silje Wergeland perform with them is, what? One runs out of superlatives. It is also a reminder of how the entire show was done without pre-recorded vocals–the harmonies are live.