Envy – Insomniac Doze

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews


Insomniac Doze - Sonzai

Apparently Japanese hardcore group Envy has been fairly influential across the past decade.  Not being Japanese though, I had never looked into the group until given one of their discs.  But as it turns out, my introduction and their sixth full length, Insomniac Doze, was a pretty shallow starting point.

While I’m sure it’s been alluded to many times before, the album’s title really highlights the shortcomings.  While my sleeping patters are pretty solid for the time being, I’ve known some insomniacs in my day, and it’s nothing you’d want to subject yourself to.  Life is hazy, and unfocused, painful and without relief.  Consequently, saying that Insomniac Doze inspires such a restless state of conscious is far from complimentary.  If such an effect was Envy’s goal, then they succeeded – but knowing that, I’d rather they had failed.

It’s a case of nothing really happening in large quantities.  Or put less gently – five to seven minute intervals filled with bouts of mind numbing repetition.  I imagine that the band is going for something of a cinematic expression with their twinkling backdrop and steady growls – so much in fact that they seem to have forgotten that there’s no visual accompaniment.  The vocals are stock post-hardcore with an emphasis on the later, merely diluting their expression with blanket uniformity (think a less dynamic version of Explosions In The Sky).  Every burst lasts for a solid drawn out second and a half, repeated endlessly over an average fifty-five minute runtime.  Ask me the difference between “Further Ahead Of Warp,” “Scene,” and the ten-minute “Crystallize,” and I’ll give you a blank stare.  Given that the language barrier (they sing in Japanese) prevents a lyrical focus, foreign listeners have no choice but to zero in on uneventful backdrop.

Sometimes vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa lets up, and the group enters a quiet phase of spoken word (returning to a few segments of “Crystallize”).  Unfortunately these near-instrumentals also slow to a crawl, and generally get old after the first round.  The instrumental effects could probably be characterized as “twinkly,” and would fit nicely with the Deep Elm Records roster – but even so, that would mean including some real variation.  As it stands, the album spans seven tracks, but could easily be slimmed down to one with similar effect.

Insomniac Doze is a musically competent piece of post hardcore that takes little to no chances – which is surprising considering the experimental genre.  Envy cry into the mic, crash down on some strings, and then stop to chime a few bells while talking over the occasional echo – it’s just that interesting.  Some may say describe Insomniac Doze as atmospheric, but with an overall mood evoking boredom, that’s far from a compliment.