Given that A Violent Emotion quickly became a staple and almost immediate classic of the aggrotech scene, AP has a high bar to step up to. Overall, I think All Beauty Destroyed is an okay followup, but is too focused on playing it safe vocally while buying into worn out tropes of the genre.
The music is about what you’d expect: distorted beats and blaring synths. Graves keeps a nice balance between dancability and aggression, but never goes far enough to feel like an assault. Maybe it’s the old punk and metal head in me, or the fact that Cubanate and Unltraviolence were coming harder than this over a decade and a half ago (not to mention the consistent output from enduser that still beats the sh*t out of the listener), but I didn’t feel a lot of force hear. Not that there aren’t shining moments. Opener “A Nice Place to Visit” comes across fairly muscular, “Hit the Streets” carries a fun party feel to it and “Inhuman” is the club single everyone in the scene knows already. But “Motherf*cker” is the true standout. The bouncy, dancy, silly beat turns what would be another trite cliché of feigned anger (yelling motherf*cker hasn’t been shocking since the early eighties, sorry) into something giddy and joyous. Also, the hip hop flavor of “The Little Death” and R&B flow of “Under Your Skin” (if you don’t believe me, strip them down to the beats themselves and you could put Lil’ Weezy or R Kelly over it with no problem) were appreciated. I love me some trunk beats.
People have whined about the vocals, complaining that Graves is trying too hard to go emo. In my opinion, that isn’t where the problem is with them. The combination and juxtaposition of clean and raw vocals works well with the overall theme and fits the songs well. I just don’t think Graves puts as much of himself into it as I would prefer. Often times, the growling lacks force to the point that it sounds more like croaking (Kermit vocals, as compared to the cookie monsters ofDM?). Then he restrains himself too much on the clean vocals. I get that he can’t sing well and I appreciate that he doesn’t stoop to autotuning to compensate, but some of my favorite singers can’t sing worth sh*t. Kurt Cobain and Victoria Williams come to mind. He err’s on the side of safety, I guess out of fear that he won’t sound good enough if he really lets go, and it comes out flat and emotionally dull. That kills the effect. Closer “When All Beauty’s Destroyed” shows that, when he lays it all out and puts himself entirely into it, he can belt that sh*t out with the best of them. I just wish he had the guts to do it more often.
Because I am a lyric buff, I can’t help commenting on them here. I like that there is an overarching theme dealing with dichotomy, the difference between what we see on the surface and what lies beneath, which is aided well by both the music and vocals. Initially, if you are following the songs in order, it comes across as jarring and a bit confusing, especially when you get to several songs that seem to be soundtracks to a rape about to happen. But the last eponymous song provides the key there, pointing to the ugliness inside everything that seems beautiful, tying it all together. The structure is great. If only the prevailing nihilism had not become a worn out joke of a trope of the industrial scene back in the early nineties, then I could get really into it.
I know I come across rather negative here, but I do enjoy the album. I just wish that more of the promise that lies beneath it was met and have a tough time recommending spending your money on something that is almost really good when there are quite a few marvelous releases out there in the same genre.
you can buy it here.
Music Review: Aesthetic Perfection – All Beauty Destroyed