HEALTH – DISCO4: PART II
Last year, electronic noise rock band HEALTH released their fifth album DISCO4: PART I, a magnum opus for the Los Angeles outfit that saw them collaborate with high profile acts across the electronic, industrial, and metal scenes, including 100 Gecs and Perturbator. The result was a reinvention of sorts, an expansion of their sound like never before, taking their already distinct blueprint to dizzying new and eclectic heights. The project itself is a bold statement of intent, beginning the process of establishing HEALTH as one of the most radical and daring acts in alternative music. The sequel, DISCO4: PART II brings together an even more potent roster of collaborators, including Nine Inch Nails and Lamb Of God but while the album continues the dark, gothic palate of its predecessor, it’s far more sparing on the genre bending explorations.
Alt and metal’s current It Girl Poppy appears on opening track Dead Flowers, a post-punk darkwave song that slithers and seethes as she switches between her android baby voice and infernal death metal shrieks. AD 1000 with The Body is similar, while tracks like Excess with Perturbator or Identity with Maenad Veil are hard hitting industrial, the latter featuring HEALTH’s tenacious and propulsive percussion at its best. The album mostly switches between industrial goth, aggressive metal, and (notably) far quieter moments than PART I. Still Breathing with EKKSTACY is the album’s gentlest moment, a post-punk ballad featuring distorted guitar chords and a distant, pulsing mid-fi beat. No Escape with The Neighbourhood is the closest HEALTH has come to pop, an emo ballad set to a laidback chillhouse beat. Elsewhere, there’s touches of trap on the slow burning masochism of Gnostic Flesh/Mortal Hell with BACXWASH and H09909, but mostly PART II avoids covering any uncharted territory unlike its predecessor. This is likely because the collaborations on DISCO4: PART II aren’t nearly as successful as PART I. While PART I saw a brilliant synergy of sounds between HEALTH and their guests on tracks like Power Fantasy with 100 Gecs, the music on PART II often feels like an album of HEALTH songs featuring a guest (The Joy of Sect, for instance) or sometimes, like HEALTH as the guest on someone else’s track. This is most true of Cold Blood with Lamb Of God, which ultimately sounds like a Lamb Of God song with a few passages of HEALTH’s darkwave mixed into the fold as an afterthought. Nothing here really fuses HEALTH and with the style of their collaborators in the way they managed to do on PART I, which makes PART II less ground breaking though still entirely serviceable.
Though HEALTH redefined their own rules on DISCO4: PART I, that same radicalism doesn’t really carry over on its sequel. DISCO4: PART II feels like more of a deluxe expansion or B-side collection than a true sequel, and even its strongest moments are overshadowed by what came before it. That’s not to downplay these moments; when they work, they deliver in spades. Such an ambitious project is one to be lauded, and HEALTH continue to single themselves out as some of the most interesting visionaries in their field. This is still exciting music, and it’s exciting to have an act like HEALTH, bold enough to explore themselves like cadavers, cutting themselves into pieces and putting themselves back together as something new, or just the same.
See the video for No Escape with The Neighbourhood from DISCO4: PART II below.