Review Summary: In trimming the fat, This Will Destroy You have made the most beautiful and captivating release of their careers.
There’s a moment at the outset of Tunnel Blanket
, one which deconstructed all pre-conceived notions of the band This Will Destroy You. A small moment, mind you, but a profound one nonetheless. From the opening seconds of “Little Smoke,“ the band creates an atmosphere, and one filled with an airy sort of enveloping beauty. It’s lulling, truly, as the unassuming ambiance entrancingly comforts, displaying a much more minimal band. However, a few minutes in , This Will Destroy You tear the carpet from underneath the listener’s feet with a raw, aggressive, and abrasive eruption in sound. It’s profound in that it’s fantastically unexpected, as the graceful ambiance gave no determinate of what was to come. This simple moment is precisely what makes Tunnel Blanket
such an ineffable joy to listen to, but even more so, it displays a band stripping themselves down, and in that state, finding some long dormant inspiration.
You see, This Will Destroy You have been around for a number of years, releasing a full-length record, as well as a few EP. Yet the band has never really achieved anything too worthwhile, as every release has sort of felt insipidly uninspired. Sure, Young Mountain
was pretty, and hell, in some instances it was even exceptional. But deep down, everything they’ve done has been an emulation of bigger, more creative acts before them. It was odd, really, as their debut, This Will Destroy You
felt like a band “going through the motions,” even though they hadn’t really set any motions to actually go through. It’s like the band, ever since their inception, as been on auto pilot, never investing their hearts and minds into anything. But more importantly, This Will Destroy You have been gloriously dull
, doing little if anything to captivate their listeners.
, the band’s second proper album, sees a dynamic shift in sound, and ultimately, gives them a striking intrigue they’ve so long gone without. It’s strange, in a way, that in removing so much, they’ve actually gained. After all, sweeping movements and crushing climaxes aren’t all too common, as ambiance and subtle passages make up the bulk of Tunnel Blanket
. It’s beautiful, for the most part, with the graceful timbre and pretty stings adding a lot of loveliness to the overall sound. Yet the album has a darker side as well, as ominous chords and crashing melodies add a bit of chaos and dissonance to the beauty. It’s a fascinating dichotomy, especially when the two converge into a frenzied and unconstrained mess. It’s far less guitar heavy, with the bulk of the album seeing a dynamic shift in the direction of ambiance. The band have been toying with this sound for a little while, so the emphasis isn’t exceptionally unexpected, but the dramatic altercation is surprising nonetheless.
Regardless of the overall change in sound, Tunnel Blanket
sees This Will Destroy You seemingly impassioned, and each of the eight tracks is much stronger because of it. Each piece has an atmosphere all its own, which makes everything wonderfully unique. “Black Dunes” manages to be the album’s most crushing, featuring a suffocating and dense build which leads into an oppressive sonic assault. There’s multiple melodies layered upon one another, and the ambiance that dominates the record adds an interesting glow to the entire piece. The drummer pounds away furiously, sounding much akin to a thunderstorm, whilst the rest of the band sounds barely recognizable behind the torrent of sound. It’s a provocative and powerful song, which is only made more so in contrasts to pieces like “Glass Realms” and “Killed The Lord, Left For The New World.” “Glass Realms” could be seen as tone of he album’s strictly ambient song, as it’s really void of any other sort of influences. It’s a light song, as it drifts along somewhat aimlessly, with timbre and static make up its bulk. The sound brings to mind Stars of the Lid, as it’s very much in the same vein. “Killed The Lord, Left For The New World,” on the other hand, is a much different tune. While it does feature a fair amount of ambiance, it displays an almost playful segment with an acoustic guitar, drum, and child like vocals. It’s pretty, and serves for a nice change of pace, giving a light and organic reprieve from the dense and oppressive sounds found on the rest of the record. Yet for all of the oddities found on Tunnel Blanket
, “Communal Blood” comes in to show that This Will Destroy You haven’t quite shrugged of their post-rock tendencies, as the track feels as if the band took a page right out of Mono’s book. Grandiose and bombastic, the crashing cymbals and tremolo picked guitars give a very big sound to a very big sounding song.
Unfortunately Tunnel Blanket
isn’t perfect. While largely an enjoyable experience, the album suffers from inconsistency, namely add the hands of filler. There are moments in tracks like “Hand Powdered” and “Black Dunes” that felt like they could have used a bit of polishing and editing. The lulling moments are wonderful in their own right, but at times it can’t be helped to think that they would have fared better with a little more zest. Yet the biggest contributors to the problem of inconsistency are the two tracks “Osario” and “Reprise.” Both are nice ambient interludes, but really offer up little else. They’re meant to give small breaks between the bigger, more demanding songs, but they feel more like after thoughts than anything else.
is an outstanding achievement, especially when taking the band’s track record into account. It’s a gorgeous experience, and one which makes for one of, if not the strongest post-rock releases of the year so far.