In the Absence of Truth

(Ipecac; 2006)

By Christopher Alexander | 21 October 2007

Rock Critic's Death Blamed on Mediocre Record
Friends Blame Strain, Incurable Boredom

Field Reporting by Alexander Thomas

EATONTOWN, NJ – Christopher Alexander, a noted rock critic and self-described "metal poseur," was found dead in his room last night. He was 26 years old. Authorities ruled the death a suicide. He strangled himself with his own headphone wire, sources close to the investigation said.

The Eatontown Police told reporters that Bostonian metal band Isis were wanted for questions in the man's death. They said that when Alexander's body was found, the CD in his player was the band's latest album, In the Absence of Truth. "Isis have a reputation for making heavy, so-called mind blowing music," Chief Detective Aaron Newell said in a news conference.

"When we found a burned copy of their new one, we figured that maybe it was so molten that it caused some synapses to misfire," he said. "But then we played the album ourselves, and found it underwhelming. So underwhelming, in fact, that at a potential homicide investigation, myself and my colleagues were looking at our watches.

"After further investigation, we discovered that the deceased had written notes about the record onto his laptop," Newell said. "These notes lead us to conclude that at the time of death, Alexander was reviewing the album, but was struggling to write well with such uninspiring source material."

Newell acknowledged that bringing charges against Isis was unlikely. "History is against us. Recall those other trials involving death-metal bands and suicide. But our theory is a bit different: Isis killed Mr. Alexander not through the irresponsibility of subliminal messaging, but by the irresponsibility of a boring record, thereby taxing his ability to write a convincing review." Sources suggested that Newell also hoped to shame Isis out of making any similarly "plodding, masturbatory and just plain dull" records in the future.

This publication has obtained a copy of Alexander's aborted review. It is only half a page long. It begins: "Sounds like Isis, alright. Oh wait, Clay said that about Tool already. Funny how Isis have now completely followed Tool's career trajectory in about six years' less time. Grammar?" The writing, and apparently his mental state, deteriorates as the review progresses. "In terms of audience interaction/pandering and audience equally uncritical/undiscerning, metal, even the progressive strain, is entirely similar to country music. Tool fans swallowed shit whole because hey it was Tool, it sounded like Tool, of all the records trying to sound like Tool ya gotta admit 10,000 Days (2006, word) sounds the best. Now Isis fans are writing about the guitar tone as if that fucking meant Anything! Blink, blink, blink. Cursor, I don't care. Make me care cursor." It ends with the following gibberish: "mybrianajglakfsjhgkhfdg;fdhgadfg!!?&^"

"We are shocked and saddened at the news of Christopher's death," editor-in-chief Scott Reid said in a statement. "He worked hard, and hated the idea of submitting anything substandard under his byline. He thought doing so was cheating readers, and himself. Tragically, there's just no way to make a snoozer of a record like In the Absence of Truth sound interesting. He will be missed."

Alexander's sudden death left the website with a giant hole in its publishing schedule, according to sources who wished not to be revealed. "In haste and desperation, we had to go with this new guy who happened to submit a review about the record, and we couldn't edit it. It's not our finest hour."

"Isis is the future of music," begins the review submitted by Tyler Darkmouth, 31 of Wichita Falls, KS. "Some people say their not good. There wrong. These people are eating large mountains of Jerk Sauce. Oceanic, released in the year of our lord 2002, was the acme of music, surpassed only by Panopticon in two years which was about Micheal Occult and the government. This album is a masterpiece, it has to be, its Isis. They'll go down in history with Bach, Mozart, and Metallica."

"I know Christopher liked Oceanic well enough," said Alexander's ex-roommate, Jim Scheall of Olympia, WA. "But I know we were both slightly disappointed when Panopticon came out, because it just seemed that the band were stuck for ideas, and so came out with this loaded concept album that actually moved nothing forward. I think that's why he made the comparison to Tool, because both bands managed to come up with something unique in a notoriously cannibalistic genre. But then, both bands wound up cannibalizing themselves, or at least that's what it appears to us.

"I mean, it's not really a bad record," Scheall continued, speaking of In the Absence of Truth. "'Holy Tears' and 'Garden of Light' are keepers, trademark Isis, really. But that's the thing, it's text-book. 'Holy Tears' has that line 'Always moving forward,' but it's a joke. It's variations on an established theme. 'Hey, it's dynamic! It's sweeping! It's shimmering!' Well, it's boring. On Oceanic it was emotional and charging, but now it's just boring. I'm sorry.

"The thing that kills me," he finished, "is that people are going to look at this as a shortcoming on the reviewer. But bad reviews come from bad records. It's not the writer's fault that bands charge fans to watch them swan-dive into irrelevance."