Sunday, December 7, 2008
Artist: This Is Your Captain Speaking
Album: Eternal Return
Label: Missing Link
01. Part 1
03. Part 3
05. Part 2
“Attention passengers, This is Your Captain Speaking.” A disembodied, calm, authoritative voice, one that is meant to soothe and assuage the fears of those who have placed themselves in its charge – this is This is Your Captain Speaking. There's no better way to put it than that. The sophomore effort from the criminally-underrated band from Melbourne is every bit as sedate and calm as their critically-acclaimed debut, Storyboard, but it manages to set itself apart from this monument to craftsmanship. It seems as if the band is more comfortable in their role – more stately, or more determined, if you will. But the scrupulous attention to detail that characterized the debut is still there, perhaps stronger than ever. There's very little flash, and even less in the glitter department on Eternal Return, but all the special effects in the world won't land the plane when you need them to – they blow stuff up, rather than bringing you home.
This is Your Captain Speaking trades the overwhelmingly solipsistic attitude of most instrumental artists plying their trade today for one of communal import. Eternal Return is not a release that draws the listener in upon herself, leading her to meditate only upon listener-as-individual, but instead ushers said individual to her place within her personal "society." This is evident through the album's organization: of five tracks, only two are given titles proper, and these are nestled safely between Parts 1, 3, and 2. This lack of detail gives us reason to place more emphasis upon the two “named” tracks. Between “Incirculation” and “Lullaby”, it is easy to see the thematic connection to a protective social community, itself being shielded by the strength of the “Part” tracks. The content of the tracks backs up the titles' suggestive thematic element with their warm repetition and resistance to the overbearing, melodramatic emotional outbursts of the band's peers.
Perhaps most interestingly, This is Your Captain Speaking manages to escape the inherent paradox of community-centered instrumental music (in that it is music that is best appreciated when listened to through some sort of headphone device, obviously severing the listener from the community) through the album's title and development. The title, Eternal Return, along with the band's moniker, suggests that the album is a return from a trip. The listener is not meant to stay within the confines of the album, for that would prevent the return that is promised – we are always, eternally returning, encircled by those we care for and lulled to sleep by their soothing voices. The album allows us to experience this feeling of return twice – once, vicariously through the album's slow, subtle development, and then again once we finish the release, coming out of the vicarious experience and into the actual experience of the friends and family around us. The listener does not only get to enjoy the music itself, but also comes to appreciate her own real-life returns with a greater understanding than would be possible without the experience. I do not need to tell you that an album having this kind of effect on the real-world interactions of its listeners is as rare (and refreshing) as an oasis in the desert.
But how does the music actually do all of this? It should not surprise veteran TiYCS listeners that the album revolves around subtle, contemplative repetition of guitar melodies, slowly developing and growing until the track becomes something completely different from where it began. With this sort of methodology, the band recalls ambient music more than the post-rock crowd they are normally lumped together with, and approaching Eternal Return from this perspective is essential to a proper understanding of the work. Make no mistake, though, this is not a completely ambient release – instead, it navigates between the genre and instrumental post-rock, taking what is best of the two genres and bringing them together under the band's incredible eye for detail and thematic power of the release. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the magnificent “Incirculation”. The first impression offered by the track is merely of an average post-rock track without a devastating climax – apparently a let-down. But once the listener begins to spend more time with the album, and the track in particular, the delicate movement of the track becomes apparent. It is linear, though it is driven by repetition, and though there are minor cathartic moments, the real joy of the track comes through the little changes - the tiny, meticulous developments that eventually produce the most momentous changes. Much like Tulsa Drone's (another instrumental outfit that takes many cues from ambient works) exquisite piece, “The Catch”, the only way to understand the piece is through close, focused listening – but once all is laid bare, the effort is undoubtedly worth it.
This is not an album for those with short attention spans, for those that need to be entertained rightnowatthisverysecond. This is not an album to be judged by first impressions, or even fifth impressions, for that matter. It is one to spend time with, to absorb over days and weeks of listening. As you begin to understand how the album grows, it grows on you, more and more, until it is difficult to resist the transformative experience the album suggests. This is the sort of album that the synthesis of post-rock and ambient music is designed to produce – and I don't think I've heard it done better. This is the sort of album that is the definition of why we listen to obscure, instrumental music, spending hours sifting through the weak stuff in order to find what's important. It does what pop and its related genres cannot – provide a real, genuine experience that can alter the way we interact with the world around us. This is perhaps the most important record of the year. Do not miss it. (thesilentballet.com)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Label: Spinalonga Records
02. Made: Genesis
03. Made: Flat Line Evolution
04. Made: Loss In Action
07. While It Lasts
08. Way To The Seashore
Download part 2
This five-piece post-rock/heavy rock band had already formed a fan base in their homeland Greece, well before the release of their debut album. Mogwai chose them as a support act for their live date in Greece back in 2003. No plug-ins were used in this vintage-instruments-only debut that features Hammond organ, Obberheim synth, electroacoustic piano, celesta, vibraphone, violin, viola and cello. One cannot help but wonder what’s next…
Friday, November 28, 2008
Label: Neurot Recordings
01. Jeweled Turtle
02. Arthur, Elsie And Frances
03. Twisted Stems The Heliotrope
04. Twisted Stems The Selenotrope
05. The Planks
06. King Lindorm
Guapo are very deep. Their press release is chock full of words I don't understand relating to and hinting at themes I am not familiar with. While psychadelic music is known to me, never have I heard anything quite like Elixirs.
Instrumental Pink Floyd, disturbing horror movie soundtracks, Mogwai gone goth...it's hard to pin down the sounds on this album. "Jeweled Turtle" quite literally scares me, it's foreboding and restless strings melding into a sort of funeral dirge for someone who never comes back from an LSD trip. It mellows out towards the last-half (track is 13 minutes) and eventually starts to sound like something from a similar group, Secret Chiefs 3; something middle-eastern and rootsy, while retaining that undercurrent of dread. "Arthur, Elsie and Frances" sounds like carnival music gone completely wrong; a sect of drugie clown nihilists who come across a room full of musical equipment on Halloween night after getting wasted on absinthe and mescal. Totally fucking bonkers, but also totally enjoyable. The two "Twisted Stems" tracks are somewhat more subdued, mellow and feature some vocal work. Probably the closest things to typical songs on Elixirs. "The Planks" is just badass, a quick rhythmic shot of adrenaline before the closer "King Lindorm" manages to pull all of these sounds together into one last, concise and deliberate dose of "what the fuck".
You'll notice over there on the "Try if you like" list, one of them says "Scary ass shit!". This is more or less what I got from Elixirs, beyond the obvious masterful musicianship, myriad of enjoyable little musical moments and an overall atmosphere that chokes you as much as embraces you. Guapo are deep, but not to the point where you need to do any digging. They've made the hole for you; just jump in. But don't play this one in the dark, with no one around...who knows what your feeble imagination might conjure up... (musicemissions.com)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Artist: Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker
Album: Fantasma Parastasie
01. Phantom On A Pedestal
02. Hymn To The Idea Of Night
03. Auditory Spirits
04. Skeleton Dance
05. Gallery Of The Invisible Woman
06. Dream Of The Nightmare
07. Fantasma Parastasie
Aidan Baker, guitarist of a thousand releases and the megalithic drone-metal project Nadja, and Tim Hecker, preeminent lord of the ambient landscape, have come together to record an album. Methought it was an odd pairing at first, but it works perfectly - Nadja's brand of metallurgy frequently hovers into ambience, and Hecker has always been at the noisier end of the ambient spectrum. The resulting amalgamation is Fantasma Parastasie, and it bucks the trend with most side-projects, in that it holds up well next to anything either artist has released on his own.
It's notoriously different to write evaluatively about ambient music, owing partly to Brian Eno's dictum that the music "must be as ignorable as it is interesting." Fantasma Parastasie isn't strictly "ambient" music as Eno envisioned it, nor is it entirely ignorable. It does have that quality, however, of being beautiful in a way that allows it to fade into the background, while being detailed enough to reward those moments when it surges to the fore. In other words, I can get work done to it, but still feel like I listened to it when it's over.
The balance of sound on the album is pretty remarkable. Hecker's fondness for incorporating jagged shards of electric guitar into his own compositions is part of the source of confusion, but, really, the two musicians compliment each other perfectly. "Phantom on a Pedestal" begins with an imposing sheet of guitar feedback that's met by an equally-imposing wall of electronic sound and - somehow - the result is beauty, even as it's cacophony. Hecker's synths sound like they're emanating from the same wall of amps that Baker uses, wrapping the entire song in a warm cocoon of static cling. The rest of the pieces follow suit: "Auditory Spirits" has that distant, ringing sound that defined so many Flying Saucer Attack songs; waves of ethereal guitar feedback are slowly shifted into gentle electronic drones and back again in "Gallery of the Invisible Woman"; the subdued title track relies on gentle, low electronic tones, with guitar squall occasionally flitting to the surface. It's all of a piece and, if you're not paying attention to the progression, it's easy to miss when tracks change.
None of this communicates why the album is good. All you really need to know is this sounds like an album from the same thought-patterns that birthed Labradford and Flying Saucer Attack. It doesn't sound like those bands, but the principles are the same - shoegaze-worthy guitar roar turned into blissful stretches of soundscape, in this case with Hecker's nebulous electronics alternately modulating and subsumed into the noise. It's the sound of entropy decreasing into order, or fixed patterns bleeding into chaos. Noise and silence, power and fragility are not so much juxtaposed as they are intermingled to the point where distinguishing them from each other is impossible - an impressive display of alchemy from two masters. by Lucas Kane (theslilentballet.com)
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Label: Forgotten Records
01. Crushing Winds
02. Static Pulse
Voyager’s debut EP sees the Boston quintet taking on the sound of former sounds of Isis and introducing some depressive doom ala My Dying Bride in the mix. For one, the production is cleaner than most records put out by Isis and the imitators they spawned. Most notable is vocalist D. Toye’s prominence in the mix. He sounds like what would result if Aaron Turner took lessons from some of Florida’s finest death metal vocalists. If you complained about Panopticon’s submerged vocals, this EP is for you.
While most “post-metal” bands have slight tinges of the post-hardcore that they evolved from, Voyager have no such influence. Though they do indulge in slower, dreamier sections, they focus more of doomy riffs and melancholic melodies upfront. “Crushing Winds” morphs from a Celestial style track to a Crowbar wind-down jam. “Drifter” features some interesting guitar improv, but it is only a prelude to the EP’s second half. “Surfacing” is a monster of a track, building up and crashing down again and again. The final minutes of the song even bear some resemblance to Celestia before drifting off into noise. However, the cutsey chime in “Static Pulse” ruins the mood.
I would recommend this EP if you like the genre. However, it won’t get you into it if you’re not already a fan. These guys have potential. (sonicfrontiers.net)
Buy it (Sold Out)
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Album: Not For Want Of Trying
Label: Field (UK & EU) / XTAL (JP) / Robot Needs Home
01. Ixnay On The Autoplay
02. Seraphim & Cherubim
03. The Paris Hilton Sex Tape
04. I'm In Awe, Amadeus!
05. We Called For An Ambulance But A Fire Engine Came
08. He Films The Clouds Pt. 2
09. Not For Want Of Trying
“Maybeshewill like the way it sounds, not the meaning of its constituent parts. If you're looking for meaning, you won't find any here.”
As many may have noticed recently the genre of post-rock has been in something of a decline. With many (too many) bands attempting unsuccessfully to imitate heavyweights like Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky, an area of music that was once a bustling market place of creativity has started to grow, well, stale. Leicester lads Maybeshewill have obviously noticed this. While their debut EP ‘Japanese Spy Transcript’ was a proficient exercise in the quiet-loud dynamic that has been employed by countless of nearly identical bands, this, their debut album, is different. The aforementioned quotation from the band themselves alone, “…you won’t find any (meaning) here…”, distances them from the congested post-rock herd. Post-rock is a genre that many, this reviewer included, closely associate with great displays of emotion. However, there is none of that here – at all. In some ways it is refreshing, in others it is somewhat disappointing; at the very least it is interesting.
In case you haven’t guessed yet Maybeshewill are not, I repeat not a post-rock band –at least not in the traditional sense. They have more in common with a band like Biffy Clyro, especially on the quirkily titled ‘The Paris Hilton Sex Tape’ which basically sounds like a song from the Ayrshire trio only without vocals, and a lot more interesting musically. In its three-and-a-half minute running time it moves between soaring guitars, dirty-sounding bass riffs, pretty-sounding piano riffs and spiky riffs. As with all the songs here, there is plenty of variation yet it all makes sense and doesn’t seem out of place. This is never more true than on the schizophrenic ‘We Called For An Ambulance But A Fire Engine Came’ which changes dramatically halfway through from a riff-heavy metal section to a string and piano section. From here it segues into a mild industrial electronica outro.
The use of electronics is vital to Maybeshewill’s sound as they employ it very well indeed. Whereas Texan post-rock outfit This Will Destroy You decided to overuse it on their self titled debut, Maybeshewill make subtle use of their synths and drum machines on songs such as ‘Seraphim & Cherubim’ really enhance the quality of the song. Though the song would work just as well without them they make it feel more complete and generally more enjoyable. Only on ‘Heartflusters’ do the electronics take a more central stage. The song has a much thinner texture than others and so, in this respect, offers variation. Though more noticeable is the inclusion of vocals as it is one of only two (three if you include samples) tracks that does this. Though the vocals here aren’t of the best quality as the midlands accent and general delivery isn’t too audibly pleasing, they have a sort of endearing quality which makes the track worthwhile. The only other song that includes live vocals on the album is the somewhat pretentiously titled ‘He Films The Clouds Pt. 2’. The use of a cyclic piano pattern and sparsely notated guitars is soothing and is one of the best moments on the album. It builds texturally throwing drum machines, synths and drums into the mix before eventually changing tone slightly. As the texture thins unexpectedly a choir-like gang vocal refrain enters. The warm tone of the voices is strangely reassuring and is well worth the wait, given the near seven minute running time – the longest on the album. The title track also employs vocals, well…kind of. There is a lengthy sample of Howard Beale complaining about social decline in the film ‘Network’ before telling the listeners “I want you to get mad!” as the song explodes from tense piano-riffing into an EitS ‘Those Who Tell The Truth…’ era heavy section which is possibly the most dramatic and well constructed part of the whole album.
With post-rock bands running out of fresh and original ideas Maybeshewill are a breath of fresh air. They have turned their backs on their past and really, it is for the better. ‘Not For Want Of Trying’ is a colourful, and above all, an interesting listen – one that is far more accessible than most instrumental music these days. The albums accessibility is both a positive thing and a negative. It is a good thing because obviously, it doesn’t require much effort to listen to it and enjoy it. However, ultimately it is far less rewarding as too often textures stay constant throughout and, though motifs change a lot, there is not enough noticeable variability. It is admirable that Maybeshewill have tried to make a unique album, and even more admirable that they have made such a dramatic change from their debut EP but as it turns out they have changed perhaps a little too much. However, for a debut album this is very, very good indeed and seems to indicate that Maybeshewill are capable of great things. -by Richard Craig (sputnikmusic.com)
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Label: XTAL Records
01. Brilliant Lies
02. Lost in Addiction
04. No Where Now Here
06. Snowflake Butterfly
At one point or another, most people who are drawn to the increasingly large selection of genres known as “post-rock” will sit down and ask themselves: what exactly is it that constitutes a post-rock band, anyway? The most immediate response will usually be a lack of vocals, but that doesn’t quite fit – many post-rock stalwarts, from Canadian A Silver Mt. Zion to Swedish Ef have a vocal presence that is critically important to their sound. Then maybe it’s the length of the songs; after all, Godspeed You! Black Emperor never wrote anything shorter than ten minutes, and most of the best Explosions in the Sky songs have lengths soaring towards the double digits. But this isn’t quite correct either: 65daysofstatic keep most of their songs under five minutes, and even long-form post-rock veterans Mogwai featured a stunning brevity on their latest effort, Mr. Beast.
No, these are not the critical elements of post-rock. The defining feature, rather, is structural innovation, and it is this which fuels the more readily observable traits of the genre. Structural innovation, among other things, means altering, morphing, or even just plain destroying the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure which so thoroughly dominates just about everything you hear on the radio. Many of these innovations are good; some are fantastic; but some leave much to be desired. It is in this unfortunate last category that the majority of Microcosmos finds itself.
Microcosmos is the debut LP by Japanese post-rock outfit OVUM. Now, writing “Japanese” and “post-rock” into the same sentence has the tendenency to send up flares amongst some readers, so I’ll go ahead and douse them right now: OVUM bares only the slightest similarity to Mono, Te’, and most other guitar-based instrumental acts from the Land of the Rising Sun with which we have become so inundated over the years. As a matter of fact, their sound is fresh and rather invigorating. Much of this is due to the band’s extremely tight rhythm section: while the guitars do sometimes grow a little stagnant, the bass and drums constantly drive the songs forward with complex and pleasing lines and grooves. Additionally, I must credit the production of this album: all of the instruments come in very clearly, and it is easy to both listen to the music as a whole and to listen to just one instrument – certainly, this is no easy task for the engineer to achieve.
But unfortunately, almost the entire album is marred by structural choices which prevent any sort of cohesion for the songs. The structure can be summed up thusly: play a rather cool little bit for about thirty to sixty seconds, then transition immediately and abruptly into another rather cool little bit, and repeat until the song decides to end. Taken individually, these song fragment are extremely enjoyable, but there is nothing that links them together. It’s not as though Ovum are leaping frantically from genre to genre á la Between the Buried and Me - rather, all of these fragments are composed in a very similar style. The thought seems to have been that since the style of the fragments is the same, they would naturally work together into one cohesive whole. Unfortunately, they do not. To be honest, the problem is so pronounced that if you were to fall asleep while listening to this record, and then wake up about fifteen minutes later, you would have no idea whether you were listening to the same track or not. Ironically enough, sharp brakes in style would actually have created more cohesion than what we are given for the majority of this album.
On the last track, however, we begin to see a glimmer of hope. “Astral” clocks in a little bit too long for it’s own good at eleven and a half minutes, but this is very forgivable in the context of the cohesion that has finally arrived. Apparently OVUM remembered to take their Adderall while the were writing this, for they manage to draw out the introduction to the song to almost four minutes, and the result is quite stunning. Moreover, all of the other sections of the song are actually connected to each other! Because of this remarkable restraint and proclivity towards exploration, “Astral” achieves what all the other tracks on Microcosmos failed to do: it can be legitimately called a true song.
The importance of structural innovation in post-rock cannot be understated. This crucial element is the lifeblood of the genre, and kudos must be given to OVUM for being willing to try something new. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. If the segments of the tracks were connected to each other, they would be brilliant. On the other side, if they were separated by abrupt changes in style, the resulting schizophrenia could be also be hammered into a sense of cohesion. Unfortunately, the songs instead find themselves languishing in a tepid middle ground between a heightened structure and the complete abandonment thereof. “Astral” shows what OVUM is truly capable of, but the only way to enjoy the rest of them, as irony would have it, is microcosmically. (thesilentballet.com)
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Artist: God Is An Astronaut
Album: God Is An Astronaut
Label: Revive Records
02. Post Mortem
05. First Day Of Sun
06. No Return
08. Remaining Light
09. Shores Of Orion
Just attended the Athens show together with JaM at "An Live Club" and bought the new CD! Show was awesome, hope to see "God Is An Astronaut" again next year...
BUY the CD when it is out (7.11.2008), it is GREAT!
Buy (Web Release Exclusive (CD Only) 7.11.08 - General Release Jan 2009)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Artist: Thursday & Envy
Label: Temporary Residence
01. Thursday - As He Climbed The Dark Mountain
02. Thursday - In Silence
03. Thursday - An Absurd And Unrealistic Dream Of Peace
04. Thursday - Appeared And Was Gone
05. Envy - An Umbrella Fallen Into Fiction
06. Envy - Isolation Of A Light Source
07. Envy - Pure Birth And Loneliness
To say that I’d been waiting for this with baited breath would be an understatement: Envy are simply brilliant and Thursday have always held some favour with me, even through the rocky A City By The Light Divided years. Spine-chilling album artwork and a seven-track listing of names far too long to be functional led me to a glorious conclusion: this was to be, on paper if nothing else, something new for Thursday and something typical of Envy.
As He Climbed the Dark Mountain confirms any thoughts of a new outlook on the part of Thursday: faced-paced, technical riffing intertwined with expeditious drumming makes Rickly’s trademark rasp stand out more than ever. It’s raspy again: it seems that they’ve left behind the post-production excesses of their most recent work and it really is better for it. Track two of Thursday’s four is the somewhat more experimental In Silence. With an introduction smacking of the likes of Jesu with its synthesiser-meets-droning-ambiance-of-guitars dynamic. This is like no other Thursday song released before: it’s fully instrumental and borders upon the definition of musically ‘epic’. It wondrously leads from the aforementioned droning amidst synthesisers into a piano chord-bashing exercise, only to rise again to the heights of a tremulous soundscape almost aping the work of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. An Absurd and Unrealistic Dream of Peace begins hauntingly: barely audible piano and guitars raise hairs which are only to be flattened seconds later by the violent progression of distorted guitar chords to come. Once again fast and technical, the instrumental work here is beyond simply ‘impressive’, it’s standard-setting for bands within Thursday’s peer group. Appeared and Was Gone is another instrumental song, this time with piano leading a march into the deepest of electronic noise experimentation: we climax with nothing short of sonic cataclysm. This is not typical Thursday: this is an evolved, matured Thursday; somewhat ironically looking back to their earlier works of Waiting and Full Collapse for inspiration.
Envy’s half of the split is just as impressive. An Umbrella Fallen into Fiction is as progressive as anything by Envy: a four-minute, low-key introduction mixing electronic and ‘real’ instrumentation with the soft-spoken monologue of Tetsuya Fukagawa leading to a passionate explosion of screams amidst a background of swirling guitars. And it still works. It’s still surprising. That guttural, visceral exhalation is still as passionate as it was on Breathing and Dying in this Place. Isolation of a Light Source is more direct: the pretext of an introduction is done away with and immediacy takes its place. Divine riffs cross with incomprehensibly quick drumming to form a whole which embodies the spirit of the band’s music: technical, whilst not devoid of feeling; the anguish in Fukagawa’s voice is truly discernible. Pure Birth and Loneliness takes a step back in terms of tempo, whilst providing the same softly-spoken and tremolo picked delights of Japanese rock, as well as the throat-exercises so resplendently executed. Nothing is an excess: it’s all essential, from the scream-talk dichotomy to the soft-hard ascensions of instrumentation.
This split is the best that I have heard all year, no mistake to be made about it. Through this collaboration, Thursday really have gone back to their better days, and Envy remain as consistent as they always have been. It’s thirty-three minutes of stylistic exploration by both parties, and it really shows: it’s something different from both bands’ back catalogue, and a will to play around with ideas surely only has positive connotations for the futures of both of these bands. (adistortedreality.com)
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Album: Crown Fire
Label: Important Records
01. Surface Fire
02. Cruciform Empennage
03. History Of Disappointment
04. Song For Krom
05. Breathe Hold
06. Into The Gauntlet
07. Crown Fire
Confier play psychedelic sludge metal in the same vein as Pelican and The Russian Circles, pushing heavy, wiry instrumentals to stratospheric heights. Making Crown Fire stand out, aside from its stellar musicianship, is its organic flow and Eastern-tinged flourishes. Its spiraling riffs and cyclical percussion roll on hypnotically, creating a immersing, stoner-friendly torrent of sound. Its more expansive pieces are set beside dense jams like "Song for Krom" which blends deep bass attacks a la Kyuss with celestial release.
There’s really nothing wrong with this record - its focused, intense, well produced and a fine thing to trip out to. Conifer do however sound very similar to their many rivals in the the sludge/doom metal genre, making their natural and fluid sound seem more constrained than it should. There are some attempts at experimentation, including some spacey post-rock noodling ("History of Disappointment") and even some oddball vocals towards the end of the record, but these brief moments seem somewhat forced compared to their more refined and confident performances.
While Crown Fire may not be breaking any new ground (I know, its an unreasonable expectation for this young band), its still a great piece of work that matches the tremendous energy of Isis, Pelican, Cult of Luna or whoever else is leading the post-metal pack these days. If you are already immersed in this exploding underground scene, then you should certainty check out Conifer. They are, as their name implies, one of the most organic sounding metal bands around. (therockblogger.com)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Album: What You Were
Label: Cavity Records
02. Ghosts among us
03. I am become death
04. Falling in perpetuum
07. What you were
09. Veiled in light
Having heard North described as post-rock in the vein of Pelican and Isis, I was not prepared for what I heard when I first gave their latest album, "What You Were," its first spin. Where Pelican could be described as more melodic and spacey with heavy undertones, North's latest release is very much the opposite - heavy with melodic undertones. Musically, "What You Were" does remind me very much of Pelican's recent "City Of Echoes" at times, only a little heavier with lots of added distortion and heavy, reverberating bass lines. By all accounts, the differences might have stopped there, but this instrumental band decided to feature vocals throughout the album, courtesy of Kyle Hardy and guest vocals by Rob Smith of HeavyHeavyLowLow. After adding these guttural growls of despair as vocals, the end result is considerably heavier than their previously mentioned post-rock contemporaries, however.
The shock I felt came shortly into the second track, "Ghosts Among Us," following a brief, spacey intro. "Ghosts Among Us" starts out innocently enough, with a clean guitar intro for nearly a minute before the heaviness kicks in with added guitar distortion and the vocals, which could be roughly described as a distorted growl.
Most of the album follows suit, continuing with heavy, distorted mid-paced songs, with a couple of clean, spacey tracks to break up the monotony. Unlike many other mid-paced, heavy albums, "What You Were" does not seem to tire. The droning pace is perfect for the style of music, and while some of the songs tend to blend together, the band throws in just enough tempo changes, clean guitars, and vocal variations to keep things interesting.
"Falling In Perpetuum" stands out as one of the better tracks. In addition to the heavy distortion and growls, this song manages at times to perfectly juxtapose an uplifting melodic tune with even more disparaging wails. Somehow, it works.
"Eidolon" is an interesting song, opening with a calm, somber yet optimistic tune before transitioning to a heavier, distorted riff once again. Yet the song keeps the melodic undertones of the previous tune throughout. "Eidolon" breaks from the heavier distortion several times, reverting to the calmer clean guitar parts, doing a great job of keeping the listener's attention.
Still remaining mid-paced, the album's title track sounds somewhat more aggressive and angry than those that preceded it. "Perspectives" follows - another short calming interlude - before the final behemoth of a near-instrumental song, "Veiled In Light." Clocking in at over seven and a half minutes long, "Veiled In Light" comes across as the album's epic song, switching often between heavier and clean, up-tempo parts. From the mid-point, the growling vocals are introduced, and the song starts a gradual build up of intensity, leaving the clean guitars behind entirely. The intensity seems to climax a couple of minutes before the song's end, only to restart and climax once more just before the end.
The album is finally rounded out by "Reflections" - a somber piece that would seem a peaceful ending if it weren't for the wailing, far off in the background.
I really enjoy well-executed instrumental post-rock, and Pelican has become a recent favorite of mine. However, one cannot not fault North's "What You Were" at all for having vocals. The vocals fit perfectly and give the album an entirely different feel. The end result is better than I could possibly have imagined and I look forward to North's future efforts, with or without vocals.
Highs: The entire concept of interesting melodies overlayed with heaviness, distortion and growling
Lows: As a largely mid-paced affair, some of the songs tend to blend together
Bottom line: If you are a fan of post-rock or heavy, atmospheric music, this is a must-have album (metalunderground.com)
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Artist: Seven Nautical Miles
Album: Every Ocean Reversed
Label: Sound Devastation
02. Hide Away The Sun
05. Our Eyes
06. Take Me Away
Download part 2
"Every Ocean Reversed is a highly mature piece of work from a relatively young band. Featuring six songs and clocking in just under an hour in length the album traverses a lot of ground; journeying between crushing waves of heavy, iconic riffs to gorgeous tremolo sections that are breathtakingly beautiful and strangely anthemic.
Every Ocean Reversed is a stunning album, with a much more diverse sound than many oft-criticised 'epic' metal bands. The heavier moments are incredibly dense with a doom/sludge tinged feel to them; the lighter moments move and interact with the rest of the music with a grace most bands are rarely blessed with."
The album was mixed by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna).
Artwork was done by Pierre Johansson (Breach).
The album comes packaged in a 6-panel digipak with a matte finish. (sonicfrontiers.net)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Artist: Red Paper Dragon
Album: Songs Of Innocence
Label: Sound Devastation
01. Polar Bear
02. If Not Now, When
03. Fear Of Falling
04. ...Happens For A Reason
Songs of Innocence is a rather thrilling listen. Opening track "Polar Bear" is a stellar example of the band's dedication to this record, incorporating distorted, dystopic guitar to great effect. A brief dissemination of "Polar Bear" leaves a lot of material to work through -- rallying vocals free from the criticism that has been previously prescribed to The Strange Death of Liberal England. The all-favourite binary oppositions of ‘clean’ vs. ‘distorted,’ oddly free from cliché, apparently rather unlike Forward March, which evoked I’ll admit, eloquently and logical ‘rage’ in one TSB reviewer.
Moving on, there’s the rhythm switches in later efforts such as "If Not Now, When?" Indeed, there is an obvious sense of urgency to the record, but it is not that of "socio-political commentary," it is much, much more than this. Red Paper Dragon have released a debut EP on a record label that is full of interesting debut efforts. Of course, when parting with your hard-earned coin, it may seem reasonable to suggest "I’ve got The Pirate Ship Quintet, do I really need this?" Yes, you do. Red Paper Dragon will not be disappearing into obscurity any time soon and Songs of Innocence is proof of this. With such a wide array of material already expressed on in this brief venture into the studio, Red Paper Dragon obviously have a lot to offer. You may ask "If they have not done it now, then when will they?" I suggest you should stick around to find out, as I can assure you, it will be soon. (by Holly Joy Emblem -thesilentballet.com)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Artist: Sunn O)))
Label: Southern Lord
01. Why Dost Thou Hide Thyself In Clouds?
04. Masks The Ætmospheres
Last year sunn 0))) was invivted to perform at a ancient cathedral in Bergen Norway . The performance was captured via 24 track mobile recording and the resuluts were pressed onto double 180 gram vinyl. This recording will be available exclusively on vinyl only. There will not be a digital release (cd or downloads). Pure analog! The 0))) lineup for this performance includes Attila Csihar (Mayhem) on vocals, Steve Moore (Earth, Ascend) on the churchs' legendary pipe organ and Norwegian native Lasse Marhaug on electronics.
The packaging for "Dømkirke" was designed with the utmost attention to detail and quality that perfectly compliments the audio content. Each 180 gram vinyl comes in a heavy stock, full color inner sleeve that features stunning photographs from the performance. The cover of the gatefold jackets feature exclusive art by Tanya Stene (Burzum, Ulver, Darkthrone).
The jackets themselves are ultra-durable extra thick cardboard stock with thick, luxurious lamination. These were modeled after the Impulse! labels' LP jackets from the '60s. This package is durable, built to last and serves as the perfect shelter for this archival release.
Behold the glory!
Nicholas Mollerhaug, the festival curator, wrote these liner notes for the album:
"Our idea behind this concert was to commission a piece of music from Sunn O))) referring to the gothic gregorian hymns of the Late Middle Ages. Hymns that flourished Bergen Cathedral in its earliest years: The age of the Great Famine and The Black Plague. The gregorian hymns of this time reflected the despair, the terrors and darkness of the world. Musically the hymns consisted of long slow lines of unison melodies. The unisonity, the dark mood and the slow melodic development are all elements that also can be traced back to Sunn O)))'s musical universe. These parallells between Sunn O))) and the medieval times gave birth to this commission - premiered at the grand final of Borealis Festival 2007.
The Bergen Domkirke is dedicated to the Norwegian king and patron saint Olav (995-1030). The church was built around 1150. In the 1240s it was given to Fransiscan beggar munks. After fires in 1248 and 1270 the building was extended. With the financial help of king Magnus Lagabøte (1263-1280) the church got its present form and was finished in 1301. The very same king is buried in the chansel of the church. After the reformation the church became the cathedral of Bergen. It was then again struck by fire in 1463 and 1702. A cannon ball in the the church tower is a reminisence of the Battle of Bergen Bay in 1665.
This record documents what happens when aesthetic openness and lack of prejudice rules in a medieval cathedral.
Without these values inhabited in the legendary kantor of Bergen Cathedral- Magnar Mangersnes - this concert would never have been possible.- Nicholas Mollerhaug"
Monday, October 13, 2008
Album: Come To Grief
Label: Century Media
02. Hate Grows Stronger
03. World Of Hurt
04. I Hate You
06. Fed Up
08. Come To Grief
Download part 2
Grief are not a happy band. On this, their second release, they continue their own brand of world hating doom begun on their debut 'Dismal', reaching into the very core of emotions such as hatred and anguish, wrenching them into the world for all to see. They not only hate the world, they also hate themselves: "I slither in the dirt and mud, because that's where I belong".
Grief have long been compared to such "sludge" greats as Crowbar and Eyehategod. The truth is, they are like no others. They sound only like themselves, and the disgust they emit with every passing, languid note, has yet to be replicated by any other band. Think of all the pain and hatred you have ever experienced in your life, and then multiply that by 100. You will be near the emotional state of this band.
Musically, Grief are a very "harsh" sounding doom band. The production on this release is certainly worthy of the music, but don't expect the slick nature of more romantic doom metal bands. Grief are dirty, they really are in the mud, and the sound takes you down there with them, into their world of worms. There are no stand out tracks, the album flows from one song to the next, a seemingly endless stream of suffering, and abject hatred for all of humanity.
Grief is certainly not for everyone, in fact they are probably for very few, but if you enjoy the harsher side of doom, then pick up 'Come to Grief'. You too will then know the pain of these tortured souls - some of it at least.
Buy (out of print)
Preorder (2X12 LP, Throne Records Re-release)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Album: Doomsdayer's Holiday
Label: Temporary Residence
01. Doomsdayer's Holiday
02. Reincarnation Blues
03. The Natural Man
04. Immediate Mate
05. Predestination Blues
07. Acid Rain
Touted as Grails' darkest and heaviest album to date, Doomsdayer's Holiday begins with a slow fade-in of banshee-like howl before a wall of drums clatters in. The guitars instantly arrange themselves into a formation reminiscent of a classic, slow riffing Earth record (in fact Randall Dunn is on hand as an engineer), harmonising in a variety of classic sludge metal patterns up until the more exploratory 'Reincarnation Blues' fires up, taking on a more diverse range of instruments for a psychedelic and deeply atmospheric slice of retro fuzz-rock. Once again the riffing is pretty darn majestic. Things get more peculiar still by the time we arrive at 'The Natural Man', which employs a creepy dulcimer line to evoke '70s soundtrack vibes, a theme continued by the smooth, bluesy basslines of 'Immediate' before it all spills into an orgy of free drumming and spluttering noise. Showing up for vocal duties on 'Predestination Blues' is Sun City Girl Alan Bishop, who adds to the atmosphere of droning, modal prog without making too deep an impact on the instrumental backbone of the piece. The final two tracks 'X-Contaminations' and 'Acid Rain' stray yet further from the world of metal - especially the latter, which confusingly borders on lounge-bound easy listening jazz for the most part. If this song were a pair of trousers they'd be made from brown corduroy. A confusing endpoint that only exacerbates the web of psychedelic intrigue surrounding the album. Recommended. (boomkat.com)
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Album: Amanecer En Puerta Oscura
Label: Southern Lord Records
01. Con sangre de quien te ofenda
02. Mesto, rigido e ceremoniale
03. Solemne Triduo
04. Amancer en Puerta Oscura
05. Puerta Osario
07. Parte II. Apogeum
Orthodox is a drone/doom band hailing from Spain. Their 2006 release Gran Poder was a throbbing, droning juggernaut of a doom album that was more than reminiscent of Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine's Rampton album mixed with YOB's heaviest moments. On Amanecer En Puerta Oscura, Orthodox drops the pulsating doom of Gran Poder in favor of a more striking blend of styles and instrumentation. This makes Amanecer... a thoroughly entertaining listen that has as much to offer as anything essential released in this somewhat saturated genre.
The first thing to note, and to the detriment of the album in some ways, is the album cover's likeness to Earth. This is made even more apparent on the first track, "Con Sangre De Quien Te Ofenda", as it has droning clean guitars and some dissonant out of tune horns (I'm guessing a trumpet and possibly a saxophone). The drums are not as "reverbed" as they were on Gran Poder and the upright bass cuts right through the mix while the overall mix maintains all resonance and warmth without sounding over-produced.
Yet what makes Amanecer... such an entertaining album is the distinctly different vibe on each song. "Mesto, Rigido E Cermoniale" has a Pelican vibe and "Solemne Triduo" is a stock doom/stoner song but is the only song on the album that has vocals. Meanwhile, the 15 minute "Templos" is a very blatant hats off to 70's prog and would not be out of place on any 70s era King Crimson or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer albums. The song isn't especially technical or jammy but the noises and atmospheric drone present are so Crimson it hurts. Listen to Crimson's Lark's Tongue in Aspic sometime if you find it too hard to believe.
The instruments on this album are especially eclectic. Mouth harp, horns, pianos, organs, nylon string guitars, and I'm sure something else is buried in the mix. The bandmembers themselves are of the highest caliber for this type of music and they make their presence known. Moreso here than on Gran Poder.
Overall, if you like Pelican, Neurosis, SunnO))), Isis, Earth etc. then there's really nothing holding you back from enjoying Orthodox. What the band lacks, seemingly, in originality, they more than make up for in genuine musical enthusiasm as this album will take you on a solid 48 minute trip through why this genre continues to deliver the occasional homerun (which Amanecer... is). If I would have gotten to this album sooner it would have likely cracked my top ten for 2007. Highly recommended and thoroughly intriguing release. Mix with THC for optimal results. (metalreview.com)
Monday, October 6, 2008
Artist: Since (Time)
Label: Venerate Industries
02. Two Questiones And Three Complaints
03. 3am_1000 thoughts_min
04. Please Light, Clarify Yourself For Me
05. Through That Dark Cloud Came Our Redemption
06. Horizon's Exode
It takes certain bands quite some time to settle, not only in regards to their line-up, but also their sound, and more importantly, their possibilities of making an album. Greece’s Since (Time) started off in 2003, recorded a short demo in 2005, and have finally released a full debut album, which is the subject of this review. Even if I’m glad to say that they’ve made a quality recording, the band’s still got a relatively long road to travel in order to become much more than what they are now.
Entropiate is, in that sense, a jumpstart, a step in a direction which may prove good for both band and listeners. “Introverse” greets us with a dark, delicate ambience that opens up the gates of this self-contained universe and plunges our minds into the passive (as in lack of physical movement) act of experiencing a thoughtful solitude, akin to that of losing oneself at the fringes of consciousness deep at night. “Two Questions and Three Complaints” continues on in this vein -- a vein that sounds like a less explosive version of any of Gifts From Enola’s debut tracks -- crafting a meditative mood which seems, at times, immersed in a kind of decadence; the complaints outnumber the questions, the deconstructive is greater than the constructive even if both could aim for the same things, and we’re burdened into static, cyclic, almost obsessive thinking because of it. “3 AM: 1000 thoughts / min” bursts forward in a very “City Lights Scraped The Sky” style which breaks the cycle, only for it to start anew. The mood remains the same, although the track develops a series of short riffs that in the end don’t do much but change the pace, and not the structure or the form in general.
“Please Light, Clarify Yourself For Me” is like the natural continuation of the last track, with its slightly more dynamic build-up and a sound that actually evokes movement, our thoughts -- at last -- going somewhere and culminating with the anguished, dramatic explosion of “Through That Dark Cloud Came Our Redemption.” This is still our “introverse,” and therefore, there’s no cloud but that which we’ve constructed in our mind: it cracks open and releases a great amount of energy in a heaviness reminiscent of Red Sparowes sans the epic feeling and overpowering distortions, making it sound more “sincere.” “Horizon’s Exode” (“exode” being the catastrophe or conclusion of a play in Greek Drama) finally brings it all down in a violently expressive display of guitar-work that ends with what everything ends: silence. A sixteen minute silence. “Exode” is too, after all, a satirical piece added after the end of a play in Roman Drama. The satire is, I imagine, an overextended silence that however we interpret it is still just the absence of sound: the band is gone and has left us alone to hear it.
As Entropiate stops playing, I’m left with a certain sense of disappointment. The first few minutes of “Horizon’s Exode,” as well as “Introverse,” and some parts of “3 AM” insinuate an emotional evocativeness so far only achieved in post-rock by the aforementioned Gifts From Enola. Unfortunately the effort goes only so far and remains in the realm of insinuation, dragged down by the band’s insistence on an ambient feeling which is not developed well enough and dwells in borderline repetitiveness. The music then sounds almost uninspired; even the heavier parts suffer from not sounding heavy enough, although that is possibly a problem with the album’s production, and not so much the band. The ideas put forward through the song names, which are pretty cool, find only a weak manifestation in the pieces themselves, and lose their strength completely by the time each song ends. “Horizon’s Exode” is the best example of this strength. What do we do with sixteen minutes of pure silence which, albeit a part of the album, are relegated to the very end, when we can expect nothing more and are ready to press the stop button? What do we do with this kind of experiment in an album that isn’t experimental at any given time? Whatever symbolic meaning this exode might have, it just feels out of place. It also feels like an afterthought, in which case it actually honors its name and concept, but even then, it just amounts to a small-time curious addition. Entropiate is, sadly, an average foray into a territory which already has very strong representatives. If Since (Time) wants to compete, they’ll have to push harder, but given the bright moments this album has, I’m sure they’re capable of it. I guess it’s just a matter of time. -by David Murrieta (thesilentballet.com)
03. Never Stops
04. Little Kids
06. Calvary Scars
07. Green Jacket
09. Nothing Ever Happened
10. Saved By Old Times
11. These Hands
12. Twilight At Carbon Lake
One might expect this would be a good time for Bradford Cox to firmly establish a line of demarcation between Deerhunter with his Atlas Sound solo project – perhaps steer the band back towards the messy art-punk of the Atlanta, Georgians’ self-titled debut (alternately entitled Turn It Up, Faggot – a reference to insults hurled at the gangly Cox during live performances). Of course, it’s something of a moot point as there was little separating the two entities all along.
While the musical building blocks in their arsenal do not lend themselves to a mainstream crossover attempt, Microcastle is sure to win over non-believers with its pop flourishes. From the outset, the record takes an understated approach. Rough edges have been sanded down into a far more digestible format. Psychedelic leanings which have threatened to spiral out of control remain, but now with its bittersweet underpinnings pushed to the surface. Where short attention spans may have been frustrated with Cryptograms’ drone, an ever-lurking ataxia of guitars sidesteps any monotony.
A whitewash of sound is woven over an insouciant melody on ‘Never Stops’, the song picking up where Ian McCulloch’s similarly urgent refrain left off all these years ago. The guitar lead on ‘Agorophobia’ mirrors the vocal cadence giving the song symmetry not ordinarily associated with Deerhunter. When Cox sings, “I had a dream / no longer to be free,” it is not immediately apparent he’s talking about the price of fame. But the teenage angst prevalent in early recordings is no longer much visible and it’s difficult to imagine Cox onstage wearing a dress performing it. And despite claims of “nothing left to say,” Cox is indebted to his manic condition, resulting in an uncharacteristically expansive lyrical content.
Whether or not Cox’s health issues are the primary basis for themes doting upon death and desperation isn’t necessarily important. The band’s emotional range gallops ahead with the confidence bred from the nearly flawless Fluorescent Grey EP, giving a netherworld depth to sentiments which may otherwise have come across as callused or detached. ‘Little Kids’ (an almost slow-motion version of ‘Like New’) climaxes with its “to get older still” refrain, marking a strikingly hopeful posture relative to previous outings.
The near danceable percussion and bass blend seamlessly with down tempo tracks kicking off the second half of the album. A four-note piano arpeggio on ‘Green Jacket’ brilliantly sets up ‘Activa’ whom Deerhunter fanatics will remember from the Daytrotter.com sessions of last year. While this chopped down version loses the feedback, the song remains a beautifully painful endeavour. On the title track, in particular, Cox’s plaintive tenor carries sparse instrumentation until the midpoint at which time the roles are reversed. It is a songwriting tactic largely reserved for his main band, and honed to a fine-tooth comb here. Closer ‘Twilight at Carbon Lake’ brings this juxtaposition together – when Cox has finally had enough with words – the melancholy is broken open on the album’s final minute with an assault of blistering guitars and cymbal explosions in what can be imagined as some sort of cynical reproach of Ode to Joy.
With nary a duff track officially released and otherwise, it nevertheless seems improbable Cox’s latest incantations have undergone further improvements. He is, after all, merely a young man channelling his obsession of Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, Kevin Shields, and Pixies. Some will complain a noise reduction lessens the impact, but it is the softer side of Deerhunter which makes their music so compelling. There is elegance in the album’s simplicity, and by extrapolation provides proof the treated vocals and distorted guitars on Cryptograms weren’t masks to hide incompetence. Nirvana once dared to show the world their songs could be unplugged without forfeiting the band’s inherent raw energy, and the relaxed setting here demonstrates Deerhunter more than able to withstand similar scrutiny.
Where the split-personality of Cryptograms hinted as much, a cohesive effort on Microcastle delivers the goods in its entirety. In what amounts to a peek behind the curtain of reverb enveloping much of Deerhunter’s compositions thus far, the album justifies our expectations for greatness. It is a precarious algorithm of pedal guitars, drums, and bedroom experimentation few bands manage to attain. Curators of music history may yet remain unconvinced. In the meantime, there’s no harm taking the liberty of pencilling in Bradford Cox’s name for the next generation’s list of iconic influences. -by Bruce Porter (drownedinsound.com)
Buy (mp3 download)
Preorder (official release on 28/10)
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Artist: The Pirate Ship Quintet
Album: The Pirate Ship Quintet
Label: Sound Devastation
01. Lost Science
02. I Kina Spiser De Hund
03. Pirate Ship
For a relatively small country, the United Kingdom has laid claim to some of the most significant contributions toward the "post-rock" scene, namely 65daysofstatic, Blueneck, and of course, Mogwai. Although newcomers in the instrumental world, The Pirate Ship Quintet already have some impressively prestigious associates. Producer Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna), upon hearing the EP was so enamoured with it, he decided to add his talents to the mastering.
This high production quality is certainly evident on the EP. The instruments all have a clearly defined space to roam around in, a quality which is absolutely vital in a genre that relies so heavily on the layering of instruments. The strings and trumpet soar gracefully above the guitars, which, in keeping with traditional post-rock psyche, do not stray into the forbidden territory of solos/lead parts, allowing the bass to execute some delicious fretwork underneath.
The fact that one of the members plays with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is not surprising given the band's song structures, which flow with a steady orchestral grace. This influence is certainly evident in the opening track, "Lost Science." The song begins slowly, and serving as an introduction, with the instruments gradually adding themselves, one after the other to the mix like a more graceful, artistic warrior-mech assembling. The song then builds to a crescendo, and while the guitars are excellent in the quieter sections of the EP, in these parts they sound washed out and thin, and thus the build-up is not as engaging as one would like.
The following track, "I Kina Spiser Der Hund", opens with a doomy, Isis-like riff, complemented by metalcore-style screams. Unfortunately, instead of opening up a new dimension to the band’s sound, it turns the song into a game of spot-the-influence, and the tremolo picking that follows sounds like it was lifted straight out of an Explosions in the Sky album. The song eventually progresses into the quieter, quasi-orchestral territory of its predecessor, before returning to the opening riff. Unlike the flow of the first song, this sounds slightly disjointed.
Fortunately, this is not the case on the final song, "Pirate Ship." After a delicate beginning, the song builds into a mighty overture, backed by a thundering guitar riff. The dynamics are much better executed on this track, and while the song is heavily repetition-based, the song is constantly being driven forward, until it breaks into a sombre outro.
Although The Pirate Ship Quintet don’t do anything radically different to distinguish themselves from many post-rock bands, this EP will probably serve as a means of calibrating their techniques, and by incorporating influences from various bands, will gradually evolve into a sound of their own.(sonicfrontiers.net)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Label: Hydra Head Records
02. They sent you
05. Sun for miles
Maybe I am blinded by my love for Hydrahead Records, but it seems to me that as of late the label has been churning out spectacular album after spectacular album at a rapid rate. Whether it's the latest release from regular mainstay Harkonen or the debut release from the young phenoms of Mare, Hydrahead definitely has a knack for finding talented acts to please my ears.
Mare hail from Toronto and generate music that is the result of equal parts Isis, Godflesh, and Today is the Day. That is to say, they create music with beautiful orchestrations that show off their technical mastery as well as their comprehension of atmospheric doom. "Anisette," the album's opening track, begins in a very subdued tone: the sound of a lone guitar stripped down with no distortion. It reminded me of holding your breath before something really intense is about to happen. And that is just what happens. At the sound of the first high-hat being struck, the tuned down and distortion heavy guitars enter the formula and blend into the musical representation of trudging through a Louisiana swamp. Partnered with the dual attack of coarse screams and sweet melodies of vocalist Tyler Semrick-Palmateer, this song is a feat you must hear.
With a seamless blend, we move on to the next track, "The Sent You." In contrast to the visceral screams that dominated the opening track, Semrick-Palmateer demonstrates his versatility as a vocalist on this song. The melodies from Semrick-Palmateeare are reminiscent of Mike Patton, particularly his mannerisms on Mr. Bungle's California., This is not something you would not expect to hear out of the same man whose scream personifies the phrase "immense heartache and pain." Mare continues to execute in the niche they have carved for themselves on the next track, "Tropics." And on the album's closer, "Palaces," they succeed in every aspect that I could ever desire in a band playing this style of music. Words just won't do it justice. You really should hear it to believe it, but this is epic doom metal at its finest.
For being a demo re-packaged as an EP, Mare's self-titled debut will no doubt be praised as the surprise release of the year by many critics. But for those familiar with Semrick-Palmateer's past with The End, this album really shouldn't come as a surprise. That doesn't mean that he carries the band; the music will be the driving force that keeps this band fresh as the years go on.(-by scenepointblank.com)