Review Summary: one big post-rock pitfall
Post-rock is one of the prime examples of make-or-break music. A large number of bands under this umbrella make great use of taking a small, simple idea and stretching it into a long, epic composition. Some bands perfected this art in their first couple of releases; take the oh-so-cliche yet perfect examples Sigur Ros and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Acts like these have a knack for stringing together simple, elegant ideas and bringing them up to nearly unthought-of proportions (and then bringing them back down in the blink of an eye.) However, this concept does not equate to being a good post-rock band in itself…
Meet Explosions in the Sky.
Explosions in the Sky does not want to surprise or intrigue you with their music. Their horribly over-hyped third LP The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
, instead, chooses to take the easy way out and rely almost solely on the concept of climaxes; so much so that by the time the third track "Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean" rolls around, you'll find yourself wondering whether you've already heard the whole album and it's just on repeat. Every song trudges along at about the same speed, contains several nearly identical key elements, and it all comes together to form a big, bland helping of 46 minutes of post-rocky boredom. All five pieces on The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
feature drag-and-drop sections that could be switched around across songs without anyone noticing the difference. Take, for example, the marching snare drum-roll/clean guitar part of "First Breath After Coma", about 2 and a half minutes in. This part also makes a guest appearance in the next song, the third song, and…oh wow, the last song too! As for the climaxes, well, they're rather half-assed to be honest. You'd think a young post-rock band would take cues from Godspeed and Mogwai and make some beautiful, happy climaxes, some eerie, anxious buildups, and maybe some devastating, depressing apex giving the feeling of the world crumbling down before you. But nah. Explosions in the Sky chooses to make every. single. climax.
a "soaring, perfect" soundscape of "post-rock perfection"*… or at least they try to. Oh, and every climax features some lovely monotonous major-key tremolo picking.
Atmosphere and mood is another key element of the genre that EITS
sadly cannot pull off in a satisfactory manner. When I listen to F#A#∞
, I get images of the landscape around me being obliterated into nothingness; when I listen to Enjoy Eternal Bliss
, I get vivid images of blue skies and sunny mountains. While The Earth
makes a nice attempt at the atmosphere of the latter, it almost always comes off as unemotional, uninspired, and monotonous. Sure, the quiet intros and joyful buildups are pretty, but when they are pounded into your head again and again and again for over 45 minutes, it gets quite boring and overbearing. The last song "Your Hand in Mine" is, indeed, the best song on the album, featuring the most well-written and fitting guitar leads on the album, but it's still pretty average and cannot save this sadly dull album.
If you're still reading my rant of an extended soundoff, I hope you'll at least see where I'm coming from; that is, that The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
is one of the most over-praised and tedious post-rock albums of the 2000's. For a record that is praised for being so full of passion and apparently bringing people to tears*, I can safely say that I am disappointed in the lackluster effort from Explosions in the Sky.
*quotes from user craigy2's 5 review of this album