Review Summary: A blend of the non-threatening and the gloomy.
If you listen closely to the slightly confused album that is After This Darkness, There’s a Next
, and then stumble across a photo or two of the grumpy looking parents of the album, September Malevolence, you will at least now understand that music has temperature. Aside from the obvious factor of living in a cold Sweden, it becomes apparent that September Malevolence huddle into their respectively massive coats to protect themselves from the cold music they have created. The music simply belongs to an empty space, with riffs carrying a song either alone or to another, even emptier space. While there is barely anything to back up September Malevolence aside from a singer and a bundle of slow melodies, one thing is for sure: they can make a whole lot of space.
Now, while the album has no real theme or destination, After This Darkness…
enables itself to come out of a few different directions. Dominated with bitter post-rock sounds, September Malevolence can happily find the time to sound like an alternative rock band. The first example of this comes in “A Notion, I Can’t Shake…” which is simply a rolling acoustic guitar, some satisfyingly delicate lyricism and a man who sounds scarily similar to Ben Gibbard crafted into one minute and a half of song. “A Notion, I Can’t Shake…” is simply a prelude to the typical harsh post-rock sounding track to follow, and simply demands the labels “out of place” or “mysterious”. However, retaining such a haunting atmosphere with a guitar and a chirper voice manages to keep in line and, if anything, create an encounter in what would without be a droning album of nothingness.
These little encounters pop up enough to create some out of the blue musicianship that is hard to expect of a band who introduce their album with a track as tame and tongue-twisting as the marathon that is “Who Watches The Watchmen”. Meanwhile, however, beautiful piano dictates the snappy “Brandskär” and closer “All Lies” blends the emotionally attaching sound of “A Notion, I Can’t Shake…” with a few post-rock tricks in an encompassing send-off. In these quiet, mini songs
, the Swedes are enabling themselves to make an album that is more than less for being grand and icy in a way that isn’t just non-stop amplified guitars and “suddenly” smashing drumbeats.
Then again, September Malevolence are forced to return to this method on occasion, and it is at these points where it is down to lyricism to collect and restore their half-promise. While it is extremely rare to find a track here devoid of words, “The Descent” has text buried deep under instrumentation, and thus makes for dormant listening. Meanwhile, “…Accidents Happen So Fast” allow Martin Lundmark’s somewhat unexpected voice to sooth the abrasive words Somewhere/between/wide open and too exposed
and save what would otherwise be five minutes of swooping from itself. “Moments” layers quick singing with a typical but good post-rock sound, and makes for an emphatic sound that is not overdone to the point of irritation.
Aside from its slightly dull nature in places (and my personal over-amusement at the Ben Gibbard-esque vocals), After This Darkness, There’s a Next
defies the idea that instrumentation is full-on and disturbing, and brings with it a talent for lyricism that makes up for the easy post-rock set-up. In a resounding way, September Malevolence do not define their genre, which makes it a lot more fun to listen to without feeling as if you are listening to self-proclaimed genius. Advised: bring big, wooly coat.