Title: Past is Prologue
Release: LP / Digital
Label: Miss The Stars, Illuminate My Heart, Zegema Beach Records
Past Is Prologue is Singapore-based screamo project Naedr’s (pronounced “nadir”) debut album. Short, varied and to-the-point, it’s one of the best albums of genre to have come out last year.
The album opens with the instrumental “Prologue” which offers the listeners a beautiful, though slightly cheesy, piano melody that slowly disintegrates into pure noise. Even though not particularly innovative, it is executed very well and it sets the stage for the entire album both in the way it anticipates the brutality and chaos of “The Waltz of Fate” and in how the structure of the album in a way reverses, or maybe rewinds, the dynamics found in the opener. What I mean by that is the fact that “Prologue” opens up with beauty and finishes with brutality, Past is Prologue as a whole starts with the former and kind of finished with the latter.
Though every song on this somewhat short ride is pretty great, of particular note are “Stalker” and “Disquiet”, both from the second half of the album. The former, with its mix of spoken-word and wailed vocals on top of simple and catchy tremolo picked guitar melodies, is very reminiscent both of Envy and Birds in Row during the dirtier bass interludes. The latter song as a catchy guitar intro that seems to just beg for Tetsuya Fukagawa’s spoken vocals but instead transforms into a kinda slow and doomy affair with slow and pounding riffs and post-rock-sounding soaring melodies. The juxtaposition between the crushing riffs and epic melody makes the song super interesting, however, there is this feeling that the song has a lot more to say, but he band doesn’t know how to do it and they just decide to stop it. This is very sad because the only time in the entire album that a song doesn’t feel complete is with what is probably the most interesting track.
Though mostly sung in English, the album contains songs in Bahasa Melayu (“The Sorrow”) and Chinese (“Stalker” and “Disquiet” I mentioned above) which speak of the multilingual reality of the band’s native Singapore. Though this doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of Naedr’s music, but I would’ve loved it if Tamil was also somehow represented in here, even in a short outro or an interlude. Still, the lack of inclusion of the language is not to a detriment of the album as a whole or the music in it, which, as you might have guessed, is brilliant. But that’s about the only critique someone might have with an album as accomplished as the one by Naedr.