Many bands try to a find a light in the dark, and make an album where all those desperate, horrible, and sad emotions are on display left, right, and centre. Manchester’s Pijn have done just that, not only as an outfit that use vocals very, very sparingly, but only on album number one, ‘Loss’.
Pijn is Dutch for ‘pain’, but it’s fitting when you consider what they do. This album has parts of its music and artwork made up of fan contributions relating to experiences of grief. Without a doubt, this album is best listened to from start-to-finish with as few distractions as possible.
Throughout ‘Loss’, the build-ups are always subtle, and the changes in dynamics aren’t too dramatic; this is especially true of ‘Denial’. Early on in the record, you can detect plenty of ISIS influence and even a tinge of Mastodon but there’s much, much more going on than hero-emulation. It’s worth noting that they like to put out feature-length films with a song of theirs hidden in the middle as opposed to the conventional music video. Put simply, Pijn are far from your average band.
Sometimes if you repeat an idea it can become tedious, but sections like the fraught coda to ‘Distress’ are signs that they have a better grasp of their craft than many bands who have many more years of experience behind them.
Pijn‘s sound is austere and bleak at times, but they can also offer moments of pure bliss, such as the majestic ‘Blanch’, a swaying, clean guitar-led track with a noticeably minimalist approach. This is proof that you can do so much with one guitar riff that changes ever so slightly.
You could argue that vocals could be used and included a little more often, but the guttural growl near the end of ‘Blush’ is especially striking when it comes in so unexpectedly.
Every single section of ambitious 18-minute track ‘Unspoken’ is brilliant, especially the piano assisted build-up to the menacing and unrelenting sludge-fest at the end. The unorthodox wailing-and-shrieking violin playing deserves a mention too.
‘Loss’ is an album that certainly requires concentration and effort to listen to all the way through, but it speaks volumes that not only is it extremely rewarding, but the rewards are different every time. For a band to deliver such a grand body of work on their debut full-length is remarkable. A week, or even a month of listening to this would still barely scratch the surface of the sheer beauty on offer here.
Music graduate from City University, partial to almost anything with ‘post-‘ in the genre description.