Review Summary: Organic post metal? That’s a stretch but what Minsk does do is create an album that draws influences from other post metal bands and creates something extraordinarily unique.
Post metal has really taken off recently with an array of bands showcasing their appreciation for atmosphere combined with downtuned, slow grinding riffs that can move worlds. This is by no means a genre that became popular over night in the metal world. Bands like Neurosis have been paving the way for about 20 years now and continue to strengthen their approach with each release. A number of other bands have followed in Neurosis footsteps and put their own spin on the thundering roar of their sound; bands like Isis, Rosetta, and the weaker of the post metal bands, Pelican. Yes you can categorize Minsk in with lot of them and simply pigeonhole them as mere copycats of the post metal giants. But what Minsk accomplishes on their debut album for Relapse Records, The Ritual Fires of Abandonment
will surely inspire you to think a lot deeper about what these guys have to say musically.
The six songs contained on this album are all gems in there own way. The songs weave in an out of one another so well that one might get lost in the albums continuous flow. Not only does Minsk do the whole post metal thing well, they add in their own flavour that gives their songs a unique character. One of the biggest highlights of this album is the drumming. Tribal drumming is nothing new to heavy metal and it’s easy to categorize bands into more experimental territory due to this element. All of the songs on this album take on a tribal approach done in a tom-tom fashion. But the hypnotic element created by these tribal drums can lure any listener into psychedelic territory; a psychedelic journey where you take a bunch of mescaline and absolutely trip balls for an hour while having visions of spirits rising from a building fire. These fires can rage into absolute pounding sessions but all of a sudden take a more subtle approach to make the quiet parts sound mysterious and exotic. The drumming certainly drives the album forward, all the while maintaining a more naturalistic approach to the listening pleasure.
While this album does have an interesting tribal feeling to it, the rest of the instruments are not to be overlooked. The guitars are extremely ‘sludgey’ in a way, buzzing through long interludes and creating a glum atmosphere of post metal sludge. Songs like “Embers White Wings” and “The Orphans of Piety” have extensive passages to them where guitars loom in a haze while clean chords ring out that a not-too-distant eruption of distortion is just around the corner. Most of the crescendos on this album are built around the guitar lines that seem to weave their way through every song but manage to stay in the midst of the mix; not being too over powering but yet still being really effective. The band finds themselves throwing in the kitchen sink as well by adding saxophone to the songs “. Luckily, the band doesn’t use this tool as a crutch but rather as an added treat to the songs “The Orphans of Piety” and “Ceremony Ek Stasis”. Even the vocal delivery matches up perfectly with the swelling instruments contained on the album. The vocalists crooning hits some eerie notes during the softer moments, suddenly changing directions while a guttural chant-like yell blasts out when the songs start picking up momentum. Standing in the back is a solid bass line that rumbles through most of the songs. Unfortunately like most metal albums, the bass sits too far back in the mix and can’t be appreciated like the rest of the instrumental deliveries.
Sure, all of the songs on here follow a pretty standard post metal formula (simple and soft guitars open the song/ drums leading to a build of roaring guitars that hit a peak volume/ a soft guitar outro with some samples) but it’s the way the songs are fleshed out instrumentally. The Ritual Fires of Abandonment
may have you dancing naked in some type of tribal chant in the middle of wherever you are and also have you opening new doors to other forms of musical outlets. This is clearly and up-and-coming band that metal heads should be aware of. Who knows, one day they may even be at the forefront of the post metal genre with their ingenious ideas of how to create an organic-feeling type of music. Organic post metal? That’s a stretch! Relapse Records has certainly been at the forefront of signing incredibly inventive bands to their roster, and Minsk is no exception!