Review Summary: Explosions in the Sky put forth an emotive, self-explanatory record that carries the listener on an emotional roller coaster that never loses its luster until the final note fades.
There are some bands which are nearly impossible to describe with words. That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the quality of their music, although that can be a part of it. But bands like Opeth, Genesis, and Death Cab for Cutie are so genuine and unique in execution that verbally describing them can be difficult.
Explosions in the Sky is one such band. The music is completely instrumental, and the band never uses an instrument outside of the traditional rock lineup; drums, bass, and reverb-laden guitars make up the entirety of their sound. Beyond this skeletal foundation, though, the reviewer writing about Explosions in the Sky finds his task more difficult. The band creates a sonic kaleidoscope with various tones, effects, and rythmns. Echoing guitars are prominent, and sometimes they may seem overpowering. But another aspect of Explosions in the Sky is made apparent once the persistent listener braves their work: while their music can seem lackluster upon first listen, it most certainly grows on anyone willing to give them a second and third try.
Explosions in the Sky's second album, extravagantly titled "Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever", is a musical journey through the concepts of life, death, hope, and human suffering. How can one glean this information when the only verbal indication of the band's purpose is the album and song titles? The music itself carries an emotional weight that totally speaks for itself. "Greet Death", the album opener, sounds just like its name: dark, foreboding, and mysterious. The band's ability to send distinct messages with their music alone is uncanny. "The Moon Is Down", a 10-minute epic which rises and falls to end in a mournfully explosive rush of guitars and drums, brings to mind images of a summer moon moving in and out of the clouds.
As a whole, the album carries a serene yet melancholy weight, masterfully handled by the dual guitarists' use of textures and varying levels of distortion. With regard to volume, a given song can go from a quiet murmer of fingerpicked clean guitars to a raging cacophony of drums and overdriven guitars and bass. Perhaps the best song on the album, the closing track "With Tired Eyes...", takes the listener's ears by suprise at several points by inserting dissonant sections which erupt into a stunningly beautiful climax which simmers into an eloquently soft conclusion to the album. Most of the tracks here give the impression of building towards something huge, which is understandable given the band's name.
Ultimately, words fail to give the reader an impression of EITS's sound. It must be experienced to be understood. This album blows away their most acclaimed album "The World Is Not a Cold Dead Place" although many would beg to differ with me on that opinion. Overall, "Those Who Tell the Truth" is an ambitious effort from a band who never assumes they need a cheap hook to give their song emotional weight. Living proof that music has a meaning of its own.