Review Summary: dogs is a slap in the face to people who've grown skeptic of post-rock. It stands here that Beware of Safety have concocted a record that is impossible to write off as 'just another post-rock album'.
Somewhere, sometime in the not-so-distant future, fans of Russian Circles
will be coming together in cacophonous harmony with Explosions in the Sky
fans to revere what will likely have become a post-rock behemoth. Just when I thought I had to take a break from a genre that seems to have rapidly filled itself to capacity with a gross profusion of bands that took an interesting sound and quickly made it a stale one, Los Angeles-based Beware of Safety
’s first LP, dogs
, fed me a 10-course meal of gourmet post-rock with a side of post-metal I hadn’t expected to find in the genre’s menu that’s been predictable for a long time. That is to say, that dogs
not only sounds full, but also manages to do so in a way that doesn’t spread its prowess too thin and vacillates its sound at every turn, making it near impossible to grow tired of what they are playing. I believe even those who may be skeptical about yet another American post-rock band oozing out of the woodwork, will find themselves entranced in Beware of Safety’s exotic intricacies and howling guitars (in accordance with the LP’s title) that join together in a soundscape that is often more influenced by classical orchestra and psychedelic rock than by its post-rock coevals.
As much as I’ve raved about the distinguished sound that BoS have created, the album introduces itself humbly as one no different from other instrumental rock albums with the common ominous reverb at the start of Nu Metal
. Not much later, the sound is plunged into tension, drums reminiscent of a primitive, sacred ritual you’d find only in legends. As soon as one expects the typical crashing climax, we’re teased by a slackening lasting just long enough to catch your breath, until the aggressive sound resumes and deadens yet again. A good portion of the record finds BoS to be taunting the listener with suspense over and over again, but ever as this pattern repeats, the falling and rising actions throughout the album are never the same and stand alone, armed with a new element every time; whether it be the dubious plucked strings of The Supposed Common
, the near-minimalism of the title track, the bruising guitars heard in Yards and Yards
…Is that marimba at the start of Raingarden
ends on a memorable note with this one, so I have to add that this record is incredibly well-sequenced keeping interest weaved through every nook and cranny. Though occasionally BoS fails victim to the old post-rock formula mid-track, they recurrently ditch that beaten, predictable path and indulge in some fantastic noodling and melody play, recouping over and over again what would simply be written off as a built-up and crashed down track like every other post-metal outfit. Beware of Safety have successfully destroyed the spiteful notion I had in the back of my mind that post-rock was a static and transient ‘trendy’ genre, and now I’m feeling a little guilty.
is a great record that redeems my faith in post-rock, post-metal and instrumental rock alike, setting the stakes high for anyone else trying to sneak into the genre and making their mark as I’m sure Beware of Safety is to do in the future. I say this because it left me vowing to never settle for garden variety instrumental rock ever again. It is near flawless, lacking only in having enough power to completely escape the temptation of riding on typical drawn-out droning guitars, predictable summits and monotonous melodic lines. Though as this is only Beware of Safety’s second release, I anticipate what they’ll do with their potential as a post-rock giant in forthcoming releases. Here’s to everyone who’s had low expectations for the future of post-rock, longtime loyal fans of the genre looking for a new vice and others just discovering the energy of instrumental rock, I hope this album nourishes your ears.