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Music Review: Harvey Milk – A Small Turn of Human Kindness

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Harvey Milk’s A Small Turn of Human Kindness is the type of grueling, harsh musical retribution that plunges you into a sense of jaw-dropping oblivion without asking your permission. Fans of Harvey Milk, the Georgia-based act, have known just how punishing these guys can be for years now.

The band formed in Athens in the 1990s and went on to develop a small but fanatically-devoted fan-base. Rumour has it that the band once performed all of REM’s Reckoning at an Athens venue, in fact, which is mind-blowingly awesome in so many ways. With limited success and exposure, Harvey Milk broke up in the late '90s.

Lucky for us, the band chose to give it another shot in 2006. A Small Turn of Human Kindness is the latest release from this elusive act and it is a stunner of plodding, chunky, brutal mud.

Picking up where the critically-acclaimed Life…The Best Game in Town left off, A Small Turn of Human Kindness is actually named after the very first track on their debut record. The album is less a set of songs and more a seven-part requiem of sludgy, strenuous proportions.

Vocalist Creston Spiers calls to mind comparisons with Neurosis vocalist Scott Kelley. His low, gravelly tones are appetizingly stomach-churning and he almost always sounds like he’s in some sort of desperate pain as he tumbles through the movements. The band’s dull crunch is the perfect fit to coat his throbbing, baked vocals with thick muck.

Make no mistake about it, this is some ugly shit. The music is dense and thunderous, rattling speakers and cracking ear drums with its sheer loudness and force. It isn’t pleasant to listen to in any way, shape or form. And I wouldn’t have it any other fucking way.

Harvey Milk’s turn through the seven tracks is a slow and ugly one. The opening track is mind-melting but nearly sounds like a national anthem for some nation of trolls, complete with rumbling drums and a stabbing slice of guitar.

The record moves through its paces gradually, as mentioned, and slides strongly into the weird, groovy keyboards of “I Know This is All My Fault” and the Southern-fried goodness of “I Did Not Call Out” without a care in the world.

A Small Turn of Human Kindness is like quicksand. Struggling against the steep authority of Harvey Milk will only have you sinking deeper and deeper in the mess until the shit is leaking into your mouth and nose, choking off your breathing with sludgy, mucky gunk.

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