Review Summary: The Angelic Process’ latest (and last?) effort brings their grungy, metal shoegaze to a fitting, if purely coincidental, end.
The Angelic Process are on hold, indefinitely. Having broken a hand that never fully healed and waiting out an extensive two year reconstruction, K. Angylus has brought the Process to a possible eighth year conclusion. It’s strangely fitting then that the band’s latest (and last?) effort, Weighing Souls with Sand
, would come at the time it did. Filled to the brim with mood-altering melodies and boasting a central motif of one’s personal life journey, Weighing Souls with Sand
includes all the essences of an ambient swan song, tinged now with tragic irony.
Told in fragmented segments and constantly breaking off to spiral into itself, Weighing Souls with Sand
treats its trajectory like the long, central journey of its story. The album title, which, coupled with the fiery, Hellish scenery of the artwork, treats its protagonists like poor souls heaved into a slow, treacherous hike through Hell. The Angelic Process parallel this focus by taking belabored steps, sliding fitfully and erratically from grungy, sonic bouts of scaled riffing and slower, chord-centered arcs. But by realizing the difference between presenting the story and finding themselves in danger of becoming it, The Angelic Process are sure to react appropriately, never stooping into lulls or pratfalls.
This is a testament to the sharp songwriting skills of the two-man band, the guitars and drums attributed to Angylus, while MDragynfly (…) lends herself to the bass and other textures. This male/female dynamic not only allows the vocals to stretch and clash in their respective styles, but also allows the overall tension of Weighing Souls with Sand
to round itself out well in tone. MD can certainly hold herself well when matched against Angylus’ brutality, never letting up if she’s called upon. This is immediately apparent in “The Promise of Snakes,” a track that grows traditionally in a doting, reverberating drone before the drums settle into a cathartic rhythm that underlines the hollow hum of the reverb. When the two-minute mark hits, the production is amplified to crowd the sonic boom of the bass and the chaotic pick of the guitar.
Here, like on the rest of Weighing Souls with Sand
, Angylus hides his vocals behind the noise, letting his clean shouts become distorted pleas. It’s worth noting the lack of harshness to the vocals outside of the production, the duo riding the airwaves in wisps and cracked whispers rather than a driving force. In this respect, and with a tight grasp on unnerving melody, The Angelic Process call to mind a more diversified Jesu or bombastic Neurosis. When “The Resonance of Goodbye” rises into a primal climax before the song has reached the one-third mark, it packs as huge a wallop as any track off Conqueror
when it fades the grainy vibration into the electronics and battle worn blasts. Even the waterlogged “Dying in A-Minor” (cloaking itself in the speaker-bumping reverb which allows the cymbals and drums to lie heavily on the forefront) sounds like dubstep producer Burial showed up to record a metal song.
Although Weighing Souls with Sand
’s biggest draw is the way The Angelic Process handle the shifting tone with ease, the album stumbles in briefs patches of spotty mixing. In the otherwise excellent “We All Die Laughing,” the intro finds the now expected drone overpowered while the drums march fervently on, too clean and loud to the point that it’s distracting and off-putting. But before too long, the drums are pushed back to be the blasting backbone to the song, allowing the band to segue from its muddled first half into its short instrumental passage. Ending with the ferociously constructed, black metal strings of its last half, “We All Die Laughing” stands as one of Weighing Souls with Sand
’s most notable tracks, heaving on more prominent, wind-channeled melodies. This same principle surges into “World Deafening Eclipse,” the album’s shortest track, which wastes no time shirking its almost poppy melody for quick riffs, just as easily jumping back into the same shoegaze exterior.
On the tail-end of the record is where The Angelic Process pile on a more sinister atmosphere, barely letting up in ferocity for “Burning in the Undertow of God,” calling upon the vitality of dredg’s El Cielo
to fill out the wavering vocal melodies. When the guitars and vocals meld to create the song’s last-minute squeal and fade-in with “The Smoke of Her Burning,” there’s an unexpected layer of storytelling that sends Weighing Souls with Sand
out on its best foot possible. “The Smoke of Her Burning” is as surprising a track as any, killing the album’s tightest, hardest guitar work for one of the album’s most sedated moments, closing on dwindling, dramatic electronic keyboards. It signals a calm retreat into closure and an exceptional end to what could be The Angelic Process’ final say. It might be a Hellish trip, but it’s well worth the journey, if only to see where it leads… even if it might not be an actual end at all.