Showbread – No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical

5 05 2009

The cover for Showbread's "No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical"

The cover for Showbread's "No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical"

Release Date: 19 October 2004

Tracks: 13

Length: 54:17

Genre: Raw Rock

Record Label: Tooth and Nail Records

Producer: Sylvia Massey

Band Members:

  • Josh Dies: Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer, Programming
  • Ivory Mobley: Vocals
  • Matt Davis: Guitar
  • Mike Jensen: Guitar
  • Josh Giddens: Synthesizer
  • Patrick Porter: Bass Guitar
  • Marvin Reilly: Drums

Showbread, meaning “Bread of the Essence” (translated from Hebrew from the Holy Bible), is an army of musicians who don’t take themselves very seriously. Their music gives you a swaying dancing feeling rather than the usual head banging sound you would normally expect from music of this nature.

No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical is their debut album for Tooth and Nail and it is certainly a remarkable debut album. They seem to create a sound I have not heard before and I believe this is because they are going about the creation of their music in such a whimsical manner. This, however, cannot be said with regards to their lyrics which are amongst the best I have ever heard. The lyrics on this album seem to be focused around one central topic; namely how pathetic man is in comparison to God. The fact that Showbread is so openly Christian and this on their debut album is refreshing.

Throughout the album you will encounter vocals that are distinctly Showbread. Rhythmical singing followed and sometimes overpowered by a screaming that is neither throaty nor roaring. To best describe this screaming one has to think of a person in absolute fear but yet filled with such anger; if this is even possible to think of. Overall the album is brilliant but it does seem to fade away the further you get into it: I believe this is due to the complacency in song creation later on. The other issue I have with the album is the production of the album as a musical composition. It rises into a fantastic climax but thereafter it somehow seems to fade away with no prominent direction.

Track-by-Track Review:

Track 1 – A Llama Eats a Giraffe (And Vice Versa) (3:51)

“I know the road to everything; I know it goes right off a cliff”

This is a powerful first song that truly sets the mood of the album. We are harshly introduced to the vocals and it seems to constantly be beating into you all song long as they are fast, loud and overpowering. The song leaves you feeling a little fragile when listened to loudly and ends with the sound of a chainsaw which at first listen seems totally random. I will explain these strange endings later.

Track 2 – Dead by Dawn (3:54)

“The corpses wish to cover me with kisses; so maybe I’ll cover this cabin with their blood”

This song is a lot calmer in many ways but still keeps a frantic pace. A few rhythmical vocal interludes seem to slow it down and make it feel a lot more rounded. The lyrics bring out the whimsical nature of Showbread as they are about zombies attacking the band in a cabin and how they will fight but will inevitably die. It seems to me that this song has a deeper meaning with relation to corporate society.

Track 3 – Mouth Like a Magazine (4:12)

“Your eulogy is like poetry but your mouth is like a magazine”

I really like this song as it brings out the talent of the band members. It breaks the norm of most hardcore bands in that it does not stick to one sound throughout the album. This song has a distinct swing and somewhat typical California sound you may confuse with the Beach Boys. To my mind it seems the lyrics are talking about the way that we are empty and cheap but seem so amazing when written about or talked about.

Track 4 – If You Like Me Check Yes, If You Don’t I’ll Die (3:20)

“I wish I never held your hand; I wish I never knew your name”

This is by far the most amazing break-up song I have ever heard. Instantly this song topped my list of favourite songs of all time as the lyrics are amazing, the vocals perfect for a break-up song as they are filled with anguish and the song is musically very balanced.

Track 5 – Sampsa Meets Kafka (1:10)

I can’t help but laugh when I listen to this interlude. To me it seems they are trying to make a mockery of club music with the way they slam it with screaming and the way they make it go totally ridiculous with electronic effects at the end; it sounds like a Nintendo computer game more than a song.

Track 6 – So Selfish It’s Funny (4:28)

“Yeah, I’d love you but you love yourself”

This song is not as powerful as the others and seems to be lacking something. It has a strong chorus but other than that I keep finding myself loosing concentration. The lyrics are once again brilliant as they speak of how humanity has become selfish and how we have made ourselves gods above God.

Track 7 – The Missing Wife (4:47)

“Forgiveness like a blanket of snow whispers like the wind does blow”

Here we have an instrumental with mainly a clean guitar. I have to admit that every time I listen to this song I want to skip it within ten seconds. It’s long, boring, and has no variation as he simply plays the same four notes over and over and over. This song should have been left out of the album.

Track 8 – Welcome to Plainfield Tobe Hooper (3:17)

“I’ll bet your hands are beautiful, I’m sure your head is beautiful, but the world is ugly.”

Whatever irritation the previous song created “Welcome to Planfield Tobe Hooper” dissolves within around thirty seconds. The frantic screaming is soothing and the punk-like drum beat gives a refreshing sound to this song. With regards to lyrics we encounter a theme that speaks of despair as man cannot change the world by being good as it’s so evil.

Track 9 – And the Smokers and Children Shall be Cast Away (5:07)

“The Pharisees would be so content with the sight of me”

Finally we have a climax that to me seemed unexpected. Although it was unexpected it still is intense and fills me with such energy. Showbread finally shows their Christian nature with this song as it speaks about how full of sin we are and how Jesus has died on the cross for your sins. All in all this is a fantastic song that I found myself putting on repeat. It ends with the sound of war and a bomb siren which once again is very random.

Track 10 – Stabbing Art to Death (6:46)

“You inspired me to sing to you”

This song features the vocals of Reese Roper from Five Iron Frenzy and Brave Saint Saturn. Nothing exceptional about this song as it seems to be following the trend of other songs instead of breaking new ground. Vocals interchange between rhythmic and screaming and only during the bridge can you hear Reese. I am not very fond of Reese’s vocals in this song as they seem very whiny and this is more of a filler track to me.

Track 11 – The Dissonance of Discontent (3:00)

“Father, thy will be done”

It is around this point that you realise the album has lost direction and is fading fast. The songs are sounding all the same and you want to start from the beginning. There is nothing special here except to mention that the song ends with the sound of rainfall and thunder.

Track 12 – Matthias Replaces Judas (5:03)

“Jesus my heart is all I have to give to You”

Another song featuring Reese Roper. Musically this is a lovely song but honestly it is on the wrong album. The song is so out of place and I find it hard to believe it is a Showbread track. I would place it more on a Brave Saint Saturn album; it is very clear how Reese has influenced this song and in my opinion it should feature Showbread and not Reese.

Track 13 – The Bell Jar (5:19)

“Languages must be organic because like flies they fall and die”

I am very pleased to say that this final song does the album some justice after wandering aimlessly for the past few songs. It is always good to leave the listener with a strong opening and ending because mostly that’s all they will remember one day years from listening to the album; other than songs that stood out. A nice little rock riff finds its way between screaming and an almost galloping drum beat comes to the fore.

In No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical Showbread is experimenting with many new production methods and sounds which are always pleasing to hear. What I find unique is that although they chose to have intro effects for some of their songs they have decided to place them at the end of the previous song rather than at the beginning of the song in question. I am not totally convinced that the effects are needed and only mean that if you decide to scalpel the album and create your own mix CD, (as I am sure you will due to the album leaving a lot to be desired, composition wise), you will have really random effects annoying you constantly. A page out of Knave’s book can be taken here as they create separate songs for their introductions.

The album art is clean and sharp. I like that it’s artistic with a message to tell on its own and will leave you looking at it for a long while as the detail and composition compel an explanation.

Overall Showbread has created a worthwhile album here. It is almost an hour long which is remarkable in today’s music industry and it has a unique sound with screaming vocals that I really do enjoy thoroughly. I would recommend you purchasing this album for the vocals and original sound. No sir, nihilism is not practical is most definitely worth the money!

Musical quality : 7/10

Vocals: 9/10

Lyrics: 9/10

Album composition: 2/10

Replayability: 7/10

Album art: 6/10

WOW Factor: 3/10 (Interesting mix of electronic and hardcore with a whimsicalapproach)

Final Rating: 6/10

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