As a member of the legendary Harvey Milk, Stephen Tanner has helped craft some of the most astonishingly heavy, emotionally intense, and surprisingly beautiful sludge metal in the genre's history, capturing the ugliness and joy of the human experience and turning it into something sublimely punishing. Looking to explore the darker, more depressing side of the world, Tanner looks to his own inner struggles for inspiration on Things Haven't Gone Well, his solo debut as Music Blues. While the music here definitely shares a common ancestry with his work with Harvey Milk, Music Blues feels relatively direct in its approach, eschewing the escalating unapproachability of his other work for something more focused. Listening to the album, it's easy to get the feeling that Things Haven't Gone Well wants to put you through the artistic ringer, but not at the expense of the listener losing track of the mood Tanner is trying to cultivate. Handling the bass, as well as the guitar and drum duties, Tanner has complete control over what happens in Music Blues world, giving him the ability to reach through the listener's headphones and place them wherever he'd like, whether it be the day he was born on "91771" or getting bleak fatherly advice on "It's Not Going to Get Better." Because of this, Things Haven't Gone Well often feels more like a stark coming-of-age story than an album of dirgey heavy metal, wordlessly opening a window with a view into not only the mind and life of Stephen Tanner, but the powerful work he's been creating since the mid-'90s.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney