Failure - Comfort (1992), 6/10

Failure’s debut is underappreciated likely due to its raw production and menacing presence. The eerie tone and atmosphere accented with dissonant, off-kilter rhythms is as individualizing as it is endearing. The riffs are brutal, jagged and catchy while Ken's vocals are haunting and somber. We get some spectral foreshadowing with "Something", it could easily have a place in Magnified if not for Steve Albini's engineering. Ken Andrew’s remaster is actually a formidable and worthwhile project, however, characterized by their modern and polished, punchier sound. While I tend to lean towards Albini’s original mastering they both have merit and provide distinctive value. The essentially two songs in one "Salt Wound" really shows signs of a group that has so much more potential and much more to say, as they would down the line. The opener “Submission” displays the character of the record right away, blending well into the unparalleled standout “Macaque” with its piercing guitar work and dynamic, capturing parable. While many of the proceeding songs are reflective of a band still discovering their sound, experimenting with timing and pace, there is not only future potential to be heard but also a surprising amount of successfully poignant moments in both the band’s sound and in the resulting harmony. The use of distortion, noise and momentum demonstrate an understanding that would benefit the band on future efforts. The record as an experience is jagged and windy, resulting in a bit of a mess especially towards the later half, but individual songs and creative modulation of melodies and song structures create a sensation of a delightfully unsettling thrill. This tone would be honed into a more compact, effectual sound over the years, but its organic form is also enticing and worthwhile, especially when augmented by Albini’s trademark sound and implementation. The noisy jam band aesthetic can either be a pro or a con depending on your disposition but is a matter of individual taste. While their later work would improve on wordplay and story, this is a strong enough starting point to hint at greatness. Comfort is worthwhile for just about any fan of grunge, and a heavy, dissonant projection of the band’s future success.