Review Summary: While the group's second full-length, Tunnel Blanket, is a step in the right direction for the band, it’s still missing some key elements of substance.
When This Will Destroy You released their Moving On The Edges of Things
EP last year, it was one of the most about-face turns I’ve seen a band do: gone was the post-rock sounds and structures that they crafted previously, and in its place was pure ambiance. No slow builds, no crashing climaxes, no simplified melodies and rhythms…just soft swells of quiet noise. It seemed like the band had abandoned everything about their previous sound and was just treading new water entirely. Given that, one could understand why I approached the band’s second full-length, Tunnel Blanket
, with caution: was Moving On The Edges of Things
just an experimental side-track, or was it a sign of things to come on Tunnel Blanket
gets things started with “Little Smoke”, and to my surprise, it’s actually one of the best tracks that the band has ever made. Starting with subdued, whisper-quiet guitar, I honestly feared the entire twelve minutes of the song was going to be more of the same from Moving On The Edges of Things
. But around the three minute mark, a huge crash comes in, and an aggressive drum beat suddenly backs drones of guitar waves and surges. Things pick up nicely, as tiny hints of melody are introduced, and the song easily swallows you up in a whirlpool of amplifying noise before dropping off softly at the end. Mixing their post-rock past with their ambient present, “Little Smoke” is the absolute perfect combination of the two, leading to one of the most engrossing, gut-wrenching twelve minutes I’ve ever experienced.
Another highlight of what makes Tunnel Blanket
work so well comes courtesy of “Black Dunes”. Like “Little Smoke”, the song opens up with soft guitar crescendos and a laid-back drum beat, subduing the listener. But then around the four minute mark, just when you’re settling in, a nuclear bomb of noise drops onto your head, ushering in louder drums, louder guitars and a melodic accompaniment of a choir, encasing the listener in a fury of melody and noise. Finally, “Hand Powdered” is another successful track, but it doesn’t quite follow the same formula: the song starts with simple, tasteful drums and some guitar melody, before audio samples of a lecture are heard, adding an element of creepiness to the whole thing, and we’re treated to beautiful hints of melody as the song closes.
But unfortunately, moments like this on Tunnel Blanket
are few and far between. While I can praise the album’s highlights for their interesting structures and ideas, the rest the album really lacks of engrossing ideas. “Glass Realms” and “Reprise”, for example, are strictly ambient pieces, stuff we heard on Moving On The Edges of Things
, and they just feature builds of noise, leaving behind a feeling of dissatisfaction. “Communal Blood” follows the same formula as the previous successful tracks, but it seems to lack a lot of engrossing elements, and just comes off as lackluster in comparison. Finally, “Killed The Lord, Left For The New World” has an interesting march-like section in the song’s middle, but nothing really clicks outside of that. For every one track that I’m crazy about on Tunnel Blanket
, there seems to be about two others somewhere else that drag down the listening experience with their lack of substance.
Overall, the majority of Tunnel Blanket
suffers from a lack of interesting elements and significance. While tracks like “Little Smoke” and “Black Dunes” actually succeed in destroying you, attacking in pummeling waves of noise and soft hints of melody, other tracks just seem to wander, floating around without any real rhyme or reason, and they really seem incredibly dull in comparison. I’m glad to see that the band actually made the effort to incorporate some moving, flowing, building structure in their new ambient sound, but Tunnel Blanket
ultimately features more duller moments than exciting ones, leaving the listener little bit more to be desired.