For the past few years, It Only Gets Worse has been making music expressly designed to create a pit in your stomach. Pairing the poetic talents of spoken word artist Matt Finney that the word “bleak” seem like an understatement with dreadful ambiance from Maurice de Jong, the duo avoids the beaten path entirely, forging their way through broken branches. There’s long been a predatory feeling to the music crafted by de Jong, yet It Only Gets Worse often gives voice to victims and witnesses rather than the perpetrators of evil and destruction themselves, often with a severely mournful impact. While last year’s Christian Country Home laced its depression with party drugs and served as an almost decadent form of escapism, It Only Gets Worse has decided to make the tail end of 2016 more blatantly somber. Just last month, the pair issued up Angels, a tale of abduction and murder told by one of two victims. Now they’re following it up with a new single, “Seen the Devil,” with a video created by Gretchen Heinel, whose reputation for haunting and evocative visual arts makes a painfully suitable fit for this music.
In “Seen the Devil,” any semblance of clarity has been washed away in favor of cold, sober despair set to a firm, precise beat. As Finney describes a grotesque loss and detachment from reality, the aural backdrop shifts in sullen radiance. It’s the musical equivalent of a grey morning spent reflecting on ancient grief and disbelief. There’s an almost blissful edge to the crackling ambiance that surrounds Finney’s deadpan, matched in visual tone by the grainy imagery assembled by Heinel. As the dizzying colors and video flicker in and out of synchronicity with the band’s melancholy, it’s hard to avoid the feeling of having been drugged somewhere along the way. It’s heavy in a context that transcends musical genre and speaks to a human sense of loss. I won’t spill the whole thing out into words here, though, as it’s best experienced directly. Pour yourself a glass of something strong, click the full screen option for maximum effort, and watch below.