"The Rope Tightens" once again invokes the dread-filled vocals of Tenfold Vengeance, last heard on Shackleton's previous Skull Disco release, "Death Is Not Final." Unlike the Zen-like calm of Shackleton's classic "Blood on My Hands," the lyrics lurk just on the edge of audibility, an internal monologue from the very edge of sanity. The percussion, too, is submerged in the mix, a production subtlety that exhibits a clear progression from Shackleton's more stratified earlier tracks. The sense of chaos is compounded by one of the finest searchlight-style throbbing basses since the heydey of No U-Turn records.
"But The Branch Is Weak" is just as strange, with an even slower tempo and gloopier textures. But in case you'd thought Shackleton had detached completely from the dance floor, "Shortwave" threads a racing bass pulse through the mazes of dub and reconnects to the techno/dubstep circuit that links Martyn, 2062, Appleblim and others.
It's not going too far to say that "Soundboy's Suicide Note" is perhaps the most brooding dubstep release ever (Burial aside, of course). The oppressive atmosphere is almost gothic at times. Turn it up, though, and it engages the body much like more conventional dance music, an amniotic tidal wave of bass pressure. It's dance music for hollowed-out men, a rave for cadavers.