Justin Broadrick first began recording as Final when he was just 13 years old, taking his initial inspiration from Ramleh, Whitehouse, and Throbbing Gristle. Obviously quite a bit has changed since then, and Final has undergone many hiatuses, personnel shifts, and stylistic evolutions in the ensuing decades. For this current incarnation, Final is merely Broadrick by himself, indulging a long-form experimental drone/dark ambient whim (and sounding nothing at all like Godflesh or Jesu). Despite the absence of any percussion or guitar crunch, “Reading All the Right Signals Wrong” is as characteristically heavy as everything else Justin has done (particularly when the plummeting subterranean bass kicks in on “Stop at Red”). It’s just a different kind of heavy…a slow-moving, cavernous, and chillingly inhuman heavy.
That said, Broadrick has always been an artist that I respect rather than love, and this does nothing to change that. While he makes a few bad decisions involving synthesizers on the first two tracks that remind me of ‘80s horror movie soundtracks or bad prog, he has birthed a killer album in just about every other respect….technically, at least. Each song is a dense and masterfully arranged symphony of buzzing and rumbling sub-bass, nightmarish atmospherics, and queasy microtonal dissonance, but it is just too sterile and overproduced to truly grab me by the throat. There is an overwrought meticulousness here that dooms the album to being merely something to be appreciated aesthetically rather than as a gut-level experience. That said, there are many great moments here (such as the shimmering guitar loop in “Green”), but they’d definitely make much more of an impact if they were a bit more gritty and human-sounding.
The vinyl version of this album has only four songs, but the CD adds an entirely reworked alternate mix of the album. It makes for a pretty lengthy and exhausting listen for one sitting, but the bonus tracks are sometimes better than the album versions. 7/10 -- Anthony D'Amico (16 December, 2009)