Lethargia – Divine Madness

I listen to a lot of bad music for this website, but it takes quite a lot of effort for a band to sour my opinion of them in the first few seconds. I don’t know why this is, but most music that immediately starts me off on the wrong foot is from the former Soviet bloc – in this case, the Ukraine. The most egregious example of this is a band from Perm that I would rather not name, lest the flashbacks start up and I wake up in a padded cell again. It’d be a shame to have that happen for the second time this year, especially considering that I finally paid off the medical bills from all those skin grafts (and that shit is NOT cheap, let me tell you). And although Lethargia doesn’t make music that fills me with the all-consuming desire to douse myself in homemade napalm, it’s still pretty fucking bad.

If you feel the same way I do about plastic-sounding production and an over-reliance on synthesizer pads that last sounded current in 1995, you’ll grit your teeth from the first moments of Divine Madness as well when your ears are swamped by a barrage of Casio keyboards and cheap string synths on the intro track, “V Temnote Otkrivaya Glaza.” This wouldn’t have been as bad if it was just one isolated occurrence, but the band abuses this antiquated instrumentation throughout the entire course of the recording. The twinkling default “0000-PIANO” setting keeps rearing its head like a bad case of herpes, and the weight of the recording is carried exclusively by plastic and artificial synthesizers, leaving the guitars to play second fiddle. Some bands can let electronic atmospherics carry a lot of the song, like Lethargia’s stated influences Anathema and Katatonia, but their atmospherics don’t sound anywhere near as dated as your Pog collection.

This would still be a salvageable record if the songwriting were up to snuff, but it’s completely unremarkable. There’s no anthemic melody, no awe-inspiring solo, and no head-turning change of pacing or musical phrase throughout. These songs don’t inspire any emotion or fill one with a surge of feeling, and any emotion that could possibly be conveyed is instantly sapped due to the dated electronics and plastic cookie-cutter production. These songs merely exist, and that is one of the worst crimes that music can commit. The only passage of the album that made me feel anything besides boredom or a burning desire for self-mutilation was “Traur Prohoronenih Serdec”‘s digression into Beethoven’s “Für Elise” about two-thirds of the way through. Yeah, that’s pretty cool, guys. My sister took piano lessons when she was eight years old too.

I was filled with an absolute absence of caring as I forced myself through track after over-stretched track, letting the tepid and lifeless music wash through one ear and out the other as it completely failed to leave any lasting impression besides “suck.” While My Dying Bride, Anathema, Katatonia, and other like-minded acts have progressed their sound into new territories and benefited from an atmospheric scope of songwriting, Lethargia seems content to make music fit more for a dentist’s waiting room than anything else.

I was hoping so badly that I wouldn’t have to resort to this when I first got the band’s music in my inbox. It’s too easy a joke to make, but fuck it, I don’t care anymore. Lethargia comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning forgetfulness (lethe). In English, as the term “lethargy,” it has come to mean a state of indifferent and sluggish laziness. In every possible respect, the name fits the band and their music perfectly.

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