What would the apocalypse sound like? Popular culture in recent years have become enamoured with apocalypses and dystopias, and has created a collective consciousness of what the apocalypse would look like: dull colour palettes inspired by Western films and affluence defined by apparel that would make Lady Gaga jealous.
There hasn’t been a concerted effort to define what music would sound like in this future world, however. According to John Dwyer aka Damaged Bug, the apocalypse would sound like classic rock with a whole lot of synths and electronica thrown in, the musical equivalent of the aesthetics we have come to expect from apocalypse narratives.
Dwyer attempts to encompass the various emotions that one would feel if your world was burning up around you: ‘Bog Dash’ has the frantic energy of annoyance, followed by ‘The Cryptologist,’ which is a sadder affair. With strictly punctuated piano playing among the synth backdrop, the song combines Dwyer softly and urgently singing about being buried alive before turning to a whispered plea to his companion to stay with him.
A concept album can be tricky to pull off, as the sound must always remain consistent with the theme – there can’t be any tangents. Dwyer is no stranger to the concept album, and ensures that every song is assuredly about a bleak future, even if sometimes musically that sounds fantastic such as in ‘Slay the Priests,’ which consists of what can only be described as sultry synth playing.
In contast, ‘Ugly Gamma’ sounds like spy sound effects but this somehow works through its commitment to the sound. A use of alternative effects continues in ‘Rick’s Jummy,’ using Dwyer’s sinister singing alongside instrumentals that echo alarm bells.
‘Liquid Desert’ tells us the routine of apocalypse, and frankly, it’s odd to hear it described in such a downright jaunty manner. This peppiness carries through ‘Unmanned Scanner,’ the standout song on the album. It has a score inspired by classic American rock, with Dwyer’s vocals following suit as he sings “people are dying/oh my god.”
Finishing on the more downbeat ‘The Night Shopper,’ a slow-paced song that could easily be mistaken for a love ballad, but instead it’s more of a eulogy. It finishes on nearly a full two minutes of silence punctuated only by cricket sound, reminding the listener that the most prescient sound of the apocalypse will be the silence because everyone is gone.