Review Summary: Rewriting the Sludge Metal genre
Sludge metal seems to be frequently birthed from the uterus of the South. It seems that every time I go looking for a new artist to further my interest in the genre, their origins are confined to the area around the Carolinas down to Louisiana. Taking a look from that perspective, Rwake has already distinguished themselves from the pack of fellow doom metallers. Their fresh, intricate sound is just icing on the cake. Forget everything you know about this style of music. Rwake has, over the span of their 10 year career, revolutionized their sound, a breath of fresh air into a genre that needed something contrary to:
a.) Droning, dismal, downbeat chanting
b.) Soaring vocals and epic lyrics
c.) Fuzzy, doped up ranting
d.) Churning deep South yelling
The closest thing to any of the above that Rwake “adheres” to (in the loosest sense of the word) would be point d. Yelling, growling, screaming, and layering all could be a fine fit to describe the vocal performance on Voices Of Omens
. A major contributor to the varied sound, the vocals are tightly executed by both lead vocalist C.T, and moog player, B. The layering of the vocals is pieced together perfectly, on this album. Echoing and raspy yelps couple the deeper, more powerful growls with strength, leading to a very strong vocal performance all around.
An aspect, of which Rwake has used extensively on their last two releases and have clearly perfected, is the practice of using cool, haunting acoustic melodies underlying crushing distorted pounding. The use of the acoustic guitar adds an extra layer of melody to an already melody enriched environment. It really is quite astounding to hear kind of a physically ugly band create such beautiful music, yet have it leave a lasting impact on listeners. I liken it to a reed basket; woven together, one by one, with each reed helping to strengthen and complete the basket. Each individual melody glues itself to one another to create a woven basket, while by themselves they are only a fraction of the total compilation. This “basket” formula can really be chalked up to the remarkable songwriting done on the album. The album itself can even be described as a basket, the songs themselves being reeds, making up the big picture of what should be seen by the experience of the album as a whole. Because of this dynamic songwriting, the songs fly by in what seems like an instant. 7 minute songs end what feels like right after they begin. 9 minute songs jump by before you can even engage fully. The only way to truly comprehend the grace and power of this album is many repeated listens. Never do the songs drag or even slow past their moderate pace. Had the album been twice as long, I still highly doubt that it would ever drag in the slightest.
Though I believe Voices Of Omens
is truly meant to be a melodic listening experience, it has its share of equally heavy moments. Because of the normally slow tempos, heavy riffs come easily and fit well with the speed. Usually simple, yet very effective progressions cohere the willowy acoustic passages together. The true core of the album rests with its melodious pieces, as opposed to the more beaten path of keeping the music heavy and having the melodies brighten the listen. The parts that are heavy on this album showcase quite well that the band can make a distinctly heavy album if they wanted to. It’s almost like they are using a strong sense of self control, enough to keep an incredibly sound musical environment intact, yet not to have a lazy, held back sound.
Truly, Voices Of Omens
has the alternative to the normal sludge sound, and I can honestly say I totally prefer it. This is one of the
prime examples of what this genre can be stretched to. It’s so original, it’s so fresh. It hasn’t been done at this level before. The bar that was set on earlier albums has now been set even higher. To top this album would be creating the perfect specimen of musical genius, not just in sludge metal, but in metal in general. I don’t see this record’s play counts stopping their ascent anytime soon on my Itunes. Rwake has taken 2007 in metal, and turned it on its head, making a genre defying and genre defining album, all in one.
Of Grievous Abominations
The Lure Of Light