The best albums of 2022: Pale Ache’s Mourning as a Metaphor | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia
THere’s a scene from the second half of Season 3 of Netflix’s pitch black comedy dead to me (the soapy-yet-silly series about the unlikely friendship between two women who accidentally kill each other’s husbands), which perfectly embodies two of the show’s most important characters: Christina Applegate’s Jen Harding and James Mardsen’s Ben Wood. The won’t-they-won’t-them couple was complicated by grief: the loss of Jen’s husband opens Season 1, while Season 3’s storyline revolves around the discovery of the body of Ben’s long-missing twin, who is, ahem, Jen killed in a heated argument (unbeknownst to the lovable jerk Ben). “How do you deal with the pain?” Ben asks teary-eyed tough Jen, who is wracked with guilt. She shows him her secret coping strategy as they sit in their SUV and turn on the stereo.
The gag here is that you can expect blonde suburban Jen to have a playlist of love songs ready, but instead she blasts metal music, explaining to Ben that screaming along to the cursed, aggressive sounds helped her scream her anger process about the unexpected death of her husband. I dare you not to cackle when Ben says he’s more of a Patsy Cline guy.
The only thing that could have made the scene better would have been if Jen’s playlist had included Halifax metalcore band Pale Ache – specifically the band’s 2022 offering, Mourning as a metaphor. The LP begins with heavy feedback before guttural screamed lyrics share “all I am died today/all I am died with you”. It’s beyond being thrown in at the deep end. Rather, the band plunges you into the depths of the abyss.
But you don’t have to have an ear for hardcore to be quickly carried by the current: Grief manages to deliver the dramatic and distorted in a way that makes a notoriously opaque genre suddenly porous, based on its talent for melody in a style of music that’s dismissed as nonexistent.
Snarling, emotionally aware lyrics and pounding percussion lay the foundations of an album that pulls you into a maelstrom in split seconds. However, Pale Ache’s sense of audience resilience is part of what makes the album so outstanding: an innate instinct for when to change tempos, when to break the heaviness, and when to double it down keeps listeners’ stamina high and ears tense.
In the album’s center, the standout “I Saw Life,” your own inner Jen will be boisterous in a storm of great emotion – while Pale Ache develops a sense of atmospheric dread through a slowly building background, reaching its dizzying climax when the Lyrics scream, “Sadness as a metaphor / Echoing through these empty halls / Wonder if you’d be proud to see how we’ve grown / But I guess I’ll never know.”