by Have A Nice Life
Released January 24, 2008 via Enemies List Home Recordings
Reviewed February 3, 2023
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Earthmover (77%), Bloodhail (64%), Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000 (51%)
Have a Nice Life's seismic and sprawling Deathconsciousness sits at the forefront of the double-album-epic category of music albums. Honing in on the darker side of the psyche, the crushing weight of existential angst is sonically summed up over the course of its runtime. Tying the realms of post-rock, shoegaze and lo-fi, to name a few, together, Deathconsciousness exists as a standalone piece - a one of one. Consider it a gem in the crown of contemporary heavyweights. The bottomless pit is well and truly bottomless - a vacuous space which engulfs all that get tangled in its grip. Deathconsciousness delves into what can only be regarded as a deep, deep depression. The light at the end of the tunnel is a train, and it's heading down your track. Everyday existence must get better than this, surely. The suffering must come to an end - but would that render life pointless? Suffering sits at the center of this thing we call life. Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga created something of a beautifully burdensome and thickly layered sonic behemoth. – Peter (9.5/10)
An independently released debut, recorded on a sub-$1000 budget by a band from Middletown, Connecticut seems almost destined for obscurity. Or destined for greatness—it all depends who you ask. Tack on an 85-minute runtime and you’ve got a double album that, on the surface, easily could have slipped through the cracks. And while it wasn’t a chart-topper, there’s an emotional salience to Deathconsciousness that drew in and amassed what is now a cult-like following. Heralded in virtually every online indie/music nerd community, Have A Nice Life far exceeded even their own expectations for their first record.
While also the result of artistic choices, a lot of Deathconsciousness’ appeal is impacted by the duo’s technical and restraints. As mentioned, the album had a budget of less $1000, meaning that much of it was self-recorded via a laptop. From a technical/equipment perspective, almost anyone could have made Deathconsciousness. But the lo-fi nature of Have A Nice Life’s debut is one that few acts could truly harness and use to their advantage in the same fashion.
Deathconsciousness explores a number of sounds predominantly built around dark ambience and driving basslines—at times separate from another, at others intertwined. Nearly everything—including the vocals—is distorted, drowned in reverb, or otherwise laced and layered in noise. Guitars lightly strum and gently guide your ears, only to wail the next. Drums boom in the background subtly, reappearing later with only the sharpest of snare hits. The duo alternates between droning, atmospheric sections and dense, pulverizing—but not quite loud or what you’d typically call heavy—outbursts that nearly drown out Dan Barrett’s despair-laden vocals.
From depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts to existential dread and the inevitable desensitization, Deathconsciousness is an unraveling of deep trauma at every turn. Confronting feelings of desensitization, grappling with mortality and the loss of loved ones, or simply finding a will to live are no easy tasks. Drowned out by everyday expectations of life—much like Barrett’s vocal often become lost amidst the layered instrumentals—it’s hard to know if there’s ever a way to break the cycle, and that’s if you’re ever willing to face it in the first place.
Deathconsicousness finds itself stuck in limbo, wading through the endless stream of question without answers and pain without relief. – Dominick (8.5/10)
Jared: 10/10 | Cam: 9.8/10 | Peter: 9.5/10 | Dominick: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8.3/10
Deathconsciousness is a one-of-a-kind experience. The melancholic and depressive themes that the album is going for are captured and reflected perfectly in the songwriting, instrumentals, and lyrics. The album also flows from start to finish phenomenally and has no out of place moments or ideas. Its spacious and foreboding production is excellent. For these reasons, Deathconsciousness is a ten for me. – anonymous community member (10/10)
Was a bit hard for me to get into on the first listen, but when you have the right mindset for the album, (a bleak, devastated one) this is one of the greatest pieces of music you will hear in your lifetime. – @at._.il (10/10)
Deathconsciousness is a gut-wrenchingly beautiful album. The melodies are evocative and emotionally charged, the tone is harsh and haunting, the melodies are beautiful and sorrowful, and it all comes together to create one of the most impressive, artistic, and hard to listen to albums of all time. – @NoodlesBotRemy (9/10)