Last week I had the distinct pleasure of sharing with you a song from murky death metal band Miserist’s upcoming self-titled EP on Krucyator Productions. Today, I’m honored to bring you a stream of the fifth track from Miserist, the portentously titled: “Lung Rust.”
As I intimated last week, Miserist is a horrific shibboleth for the mistreated and discarded youth of America’s mental health system’s past. The EP is inspired by Geraldo’s groundbreaking documentary The Last Great Disgrace. In this short exposé, Geraldo uncovered the egregious suffering and malpractice taking place at Staten Island’s Willowbrook State School. The sanitarium and education center for mentally disabled children, at one point the largest such center in the country, came under fire for its gross overpopulation and questionable treatment of children. As Geraldo famously commented in the documentary, before its closure, “It smelled of filth, it smelled of disease, and it smelled of death.”
The abandoned Willowbrook facility and its horrific history first came to my attention with the documentary Cropsey, an investigative look at Staten Island’s hooked bogeyman. One of the chief suspects for a string of child murders that likely inspired/was informed by the legend of Cropsey was a former facility worker named Andre Rand who seemingly lived in the woods outside the abandoned state school. Some parents and community members believed Rand was connected to a satanic cult that used the former Willowbrook grounds for child sacrifice; though this rumor was undoubtedly born out of the 1990s satanic paranoia sweeping the nation, Rand’s bizarre prison correspondence did little to assuage their fears.
The weight of the injustice on Staten Island, the lurking fear of child killers and satanic cults, and the mass guilt born on the broken back of America’s mental health treatment past have all been transmuted into a gruesome homunculus by Miserist. “Lung Rust,” the fifth track on the new EP, finds the album plunging ever closer into the bowels of the inferno experienced by the children of Willowbrook. “[Lung Rust is] basically what the kids wouldn’t felt,” the mysterious entity behind Miserist reports. “Breathing in toxic fumes, hot air in the summer, and diseases. Feeling like that they can’t breathe.”
That suffocating atmosphere is transmuted perfectly into “Lung Rust’s” claustrophobic tone. The electronic jitters and moans swell and heave with the miasma of neglect and malpractice. The guitars riff with rot and decay, bludgeoning from the very first note with a wall of sickness and sound. The plodding drums that careen insanely from full tilt to creeping death only add to the palpable menace of the track. The odd guitar flourishes and synth swaths at the end echo like the wailings of the damned, finally taking us to the brink. All is corruption as the album careens closer to its dramatic, asylum-spanning denouement.
Like Willowbrook, “Lung Rust” is hell for those trapped within.