What happens when three Montreal jazz musicians make a metal album?

An odd-metered, Hieronymus Bosch-esque nightmare that is nearly as narrative and whimsical as it is terrifying.

Escrito por: Will Carter
Visuales de: Will Carter

SYSTEMATICALLY MANUFACTURED is Gas Station Mentality’s (GSM’s) sophomore album, and was, as sarcastically suggested by the title, a masters thesis assignment that became an all-out rebellion against homogeneity. Inspired by 80’s and 90’s mathcore, and guitar virtuosos like Wayne Krantz and Kurt Rosenwinkel, SYSTEMATICALLY MANUFACTURED is a glorious and monstrous meditation on the absurd. It is both cathartic and disturbing. It’s rubbernecking a gruesome car accident.

GSM, consisting of Blake Hawley (guitar/bandleader), Antoine Pelegrin (bass), and Guillaume Pilote (drums), eschews genre, though they have been known to label themselves “alternative-grunge, blue-collar.” Whether or not this is accurate is a moot point. With songs like “TERROR RIZING,” and “Full Blast,” GSM affects primordial anger, resistance, and damnation of the status-quo with every chunk. They’ve managed to uncover that universal and resounding “Fuck you” that can be found in a TOOL riff, a Meshuggah breakdown, or a David S. Ware solo. It’s the sadistic disintegration of niceties—a punch in the face instead of a handshake. And in the feedback you can hear that a group of frustrated musicians have settled into a sonic and rhythmic match made in hell.

There is an irony in the fact that to a great amount of literal math went into the composition of SYSTEMATICALLY MANUFACTURED. There was an extensive amount of building up before things could start to breakdown. Blake Hawley is almost a physicist in his approach to composition, using what some may see as an inflexible medium to actually explore the vague and fluid edges of our reality. As one considers the tedious process of composing and notating the seemingly chaotic we are reminded of the album title, and encounter an added layer of oxymoron. The deeper one delves the blurrier things become; a truly relatable sentiment in the age of post-truth.

Gas Station Mentality

There are spaces in the album where it’s impossible to avoid the groups’ combined thousands-of-hours shedding standards, and their history pierces through the overdrive when a chord progression takes an unexpected melodic turn. “Hominid,” “Psycho Activity,” and “Giving, Not Taking,” form an extended suite, like an oasis within the project, and provide a necessary respite from the reckless abandon that falls on either side. The “Hominid Suite” (as it was originally composed) also serves to create a more varied narrative texture within the project, giving the album’s progression a story-like and purposeful unraveling.

Blake, often performing in a mechanics jumpsuit, has embraced the bandleader role with maniacal enthusiasm. Live performances are rare sights to behold, and only serve to reinforce the group’s image as devote followers of hysteria. And as jazz artists continue to create and explore new avenues to express the palpable fear and anxiety that permeates Western culture, it’s about time someone said “Fuck it,” and exploded.

SYSTEMATICALLY MANUFACTURED, Gas Station Mentality https://gasstationmentality.bandcamp.com/album/systematically-manufactured

Recorded at Seratone Studios in Montreal, QC March 24,25,26,27.
Mixing-Denis Martin and Blake Hawley
Mastering-Pat Keane
Artwork-Ben Appleby-Maguire
Composed by Blake Hawley
released May 26, 2017

Suggested tracks – “Gastonia” – “Sky Burial” – “Giving, Not taking”

Will Carter

Will Carter is a writer and translator. He enjoys plants, graphic novels, free jazz, and Stanley Kubrick films.

Will Carter

Will Carter is a writer and translator. He enjoys plants, graphic novels, free jazz, and Stanley Kubrick films.

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