Negation by Haldol is one of the most provocative album experiences I’ve had in a long while. The band’s sound is steeped in dark post punk and death rock, with tense soundscapes and terrifying lyrics that explore the abyssal nature of the human condition. The themes and nuances of this record are so smartly presented that it has given me a visceral feeling similar to the best horror flicks or novels can offer.
Several images come into my mind as I listen to this album. Haldol doesn’t shy from the grotesque and the weird, all while cleverly juxtaposing them with everyday experiences that are close to the heart like love and relationships. It feels like written by an murder detective who has seen too much, or a war-torn veteran plagued by horrors from his past.
This is death rock where noise doesn’t bombard your ears too much, but the imagery sticks into your mind like a good horrific experience, ready to claw away at your subconscious while doing mundane things like turning on the lightswitch at night or passing by a roadkill on the street.
The line “Left Ventricle burst like a nightmare right before your eyes” introduces one of its best tracks, “Fear and Fascination.” All while accompanied by clashing metallic textures that feels like a thousand razorblades clashing together with a clamoring drumbeat. Although the lyrics are insanely poetic and layered, the imagery Haldol presents feels very raw and visceral, like a fist smashing through your throat or a flying knee to the solar plexus.
Another striking example is “Amuse-bouches”, where dissonance and diminished riffs hover mercilessly above the mix. Both suffocating and claustrophobic while rhythmically grooving in a psych beat.
The second half of the record mostly dedicates itself to post-punk and adjacent sounds, but honestly the impact of the previous tracks has just shrouded over my listening experience. Even if its 80’s and 90’s sounds are familiar, the ones that come before have already darkened the atmosphere.
This makes “Truth of an Arrow” ambiguous as to whether it is a song of love or pain. I can hear the 80’s new wave and goth influences in it but it feels more guttural with the line: “But a Lover’s only a dancing friend / Stepping calmly in a bloody flowerbed.” Another personal favorite is “Taphonomy” which is heavy on punk and hardcore influences, except its subject that juxtaposes the degradation of the earth with the tragic death of a girl.
Haldol’s Negation is one of the better albums that came out during the pandemic era. To think that this was self-produced under these circumstances is a marvel in and of itself. This album is perfect for exploring the darker side of our nature.