Review Summary: Imagine Godspeed, but post-metal.
Logging onto MySpace, I noticed that once again, another band friend requested me. Those of you with a MySpace (and still use it) know that this happens all the time. Usually, I either don't accept at all or I accept without ever listening to the band. However, something about the band made me curious. Perhaps it was the creepy display picture of some guy holding a knife, looking like something from the 1800's, that attracted me. And so I listened.
What I found was a post-metal trio from Utah. There is no vocalist, only a guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. There are no pictures of the members or a flood of multimedia and the logos of sponsors. This band is small and quite mysterious. Despite this, it makes music so vast that it is capable of consuming worlds.
Listeners of post-metal should know what to expect: a single guitar playing lightly, the slow progression with the drums and bass coming in, making the music ever so slightly heavier before unleashing a metal climax. For the most part, the band is stereotypical in this way. The intro track begins with the guitar, with multiple effects used heavily, creating an atmosphere while the drums begin to rumble, much like the tribal style drums of Neurosis, and a sample of a woman's voice (who knows what she's saying, especially with the delay effect) is played throughout, creating a slightly creepy feeling. Then the first real song begins, smoothly flowing from the intro.
As one may expect, a light guitar is played. It gradually gets louder and louder, with the drums rumbling once again, before feedback suddenly appears and things get metal. There is only one guitarist, but the songs are overdubbed and effects such as reverb, loops, and delay (very typical of post-metal and post-rock) are used to make a single guitar sound like a dozen. The music thus becomes very thick, not unlike Rosetta. Sludgy guitar riffs play from time to time, breaking from the post-metal sound and, while not flowing perfectly, causes heads to move along to the rhythm. The songs are as heavy as they are sometimes pretty and while transitioning from sludgy riffs to post-rock build-ups and back, the songs do end up at climaxes that engulf the listener in thick atmosphere. Even the nearly thirty minute "Mammon," which may have the most suitable name of any song made ever, remains interesting throughout as it constantly changes with the use of build-ups and sudden-stop dynamics. Many different riffs are used throughout the song, with the guitar and bass suiting each other just about perfectly. Palm muting, string plucking, intense strumming, tremolo picking, and full on riffing are just some techniques used as the band appears to be all over the place, yet focused at the same time.
Much like Tool, the band uses interludes between the main tracks. An acoustic guitar and a piano are examples of different instruments used to create a break between the long songs. Like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the band makes use of vocal samples, both in interludes and full songs. You will hear a man speaking in some foreign language, a speech declaring war, a choir soaring over a devouring atmosphere, and even terrified screams. These samples, as well as the band's style and use of crescendos, can make comparisons to a metal Godspeed easy.
There is a lot to say about this album. Sunden
may fit perfectly in any post-metal collection, between Oceanic
and The Fire in Our Throats
, but it is also different and special. In a single song, what feels like a light, drizzling snow can turn into hurricane-like blizzard unexpectedly. The album may end softly, but you have already been covered completely in the heavy snow and your roof has probably collapsed under the weight.