Harvey Milk
"A Small Turn of Human of Kindness"

(Hydra Head Records 2010)Harvey Milk - A Small Turn of Human of Kindness

Amidst the endless video enjoyments on YouTube, there's a fantastic clip of three Philadelphia-area elderly folks, who apparently make a semi regular habit out of listening to songs and sharing their musings with everyone. And they, clearly not knowing what they were getting into, decided to have a go at Harvey Milk's "Death Goes to the Winner," from the Georgia sludge rockers' crazy-good 2008 album "Life...The Best Game in Town." Things are moving along pleasantly enough; that is, until the gentle opening bars suddenly explode into a ferocious wall of guttural sludgified metal. Small wonder that paramedics weren't called to the scene.

So it was with much anticipation that I dropped on Harvey Milk's latest, "A Small Turn of Human Kindness," eagerly awaiting the moment when my inner septuagenarian would get brutally exorcised out the back of my head. But it didn't happen, really; at least not immediately, and not in a way that you'd expect. See, on listening to this sucker a bunch, it became apparent what I had missed while waiting for an avalanche of abuse: an absolute son-of-a-bitch of an album that packs more depressive emotional wallop than an Intervention marathon. Structured like one 37-minute song and broken into seven plodding parts, the album is the very definition of a grower; each song is a movement unto itself, growing out of the previous one, built upon wave after wave of spirit-crushing doom. It may seem a bit on the short side, but it's meticulously crafted and utterly efficient; each piece of the album is absolutely vital, from the skull-rending guitar thunder to Creston Spiers' carton-a-day vocals. Even the ringing spaces between notes have their place in the overall scheme of the record.

If you find yourself somewhat underwhelmed by this mini-epic from Harvey Milk, your instructions are to listen to it again. Several times. "A Small Turn of Human Kindness" is the rare album that truly rewards those who are willing to spend some time with it. Be warned, though, as side effects of this record may include severe brooding and possible depression. Sometimes, though, you just have to damage those fragile emotions of yours if you want to hear some good music.

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