Review Summary: Maybe a little uninspired, Lands creates a bit of a worthwhile post-metal record.
The beautiful thing about music is that it is a universal language. For the world of post-metal, though, that language seems to be English, and American English specifically. While there are a few giants sprinkled throughout the world, the American scene has seemingly dominated the genre for a while in terms of big names. You can figure out those names on your own.
Now, I’ve never been to England, or even Europe at all for that matter. But one of the country’s greatest exports has always been music. Unfortunately for Surrey post-metallers Lands, their album Subtitles
leaves them in the second tier, looking up at the likes of The Ocean’s early days and Isis’ career.
Don’t take that statement and run with it, though. Subtitles
is certainly not a bad album. The group employs big walls of sound, and also the subtle and beautiful arrangements that helped popularize the style. Different than those before them, and importantly, they leave the atmospherics and dense layers at the door. Take away gradual song buildups, and you might not call it post-metal at all. And while that isn‘t necessarily a bad thing, common repetition makes some of the tracks grow stagnant.
Luckily, the album is short, with only four “song length” tracks, pushing eight minutes per, and the track “Interlude” that is what its name is, so the inert sections aren’t particularly pressing. The interspersed use of piano is a very welcome attribute. Not just done well, it is also quite complementary.
Another glaring issue is the band’s lack of vocation of clean guitar. The little time allotted to it is good not just for its stark contrast to the heavy distortion (which is a bright, clean distortion itself), but also simply for the sake of hearing it. For, it is another aspect of music the band has shown adeptness. As a corollary, it causes the music to make few, and sudden, dynamic shifts that could become frustrating. Subtitles
ends rather well, with a relatively long, repetitious, and mid-paced chugging as a final blast into an excellent piano outro.
Now, that isn’t quite the example of the rapid changes that might nag a listener. In fact, this one appears much more welcome. Starting well and ending well are keys to any act. And depending on personal taste, something of note is that those heavy sections are a lot less sludge and a lot more metal than many of their peers. As was hinted at previously, Subtitles
sort of finds itself in a purgatory between The Ocean’s Precambrian
and their 2010 pair of complementary concept albums. Whichever side they are closer to is tough to say, and it’s possibly neither.
Despite almost aimless song structures, the album is still an enjoyable listen. The redeeming factors of each track bring the sum of their parts to something around “solid”. Consisting of only screaming, the vocals leave a little to be desired, as does the album, but if it gets the job done, then it gets the job done. So, if it’s very accessible post-metal you want, you’ve got it.