Review Summary: A haunting reminder that post rock still is still relevant
Music can be disturbing for a number of reasons, tortured vocals, grim lyrics and disarming minimalism being but a few. With their first full album, Italian band Magdalene
acheive this effect by using subtle atmospheres so drenched in unease and tension that the listener cannot help but feel anticipation and become at least slightly unsettled. It is also worth mentioning that they took a huge step away from their self-titled debut EP, which was far more screamo influenced than this post rock milestone.
Opener Following a False Beacon
is perhaps the most aptly-named song that I have yet to hear, starting off with a menacing arpeggio that gradually evolves, becoming more and more mysterious, until the vocals come in, sounding hopeless and desperate, and then the song moves onto the climax; it doesn't explode or suddenly crescendo, or anything else that might sound contrived, it simply devolops further, at its own pace. This is an important aspect of the whole album; nothing happens either too quickly or too slowly, with the result that it sounds completely natural and therefore even more creepy. The other songs unfold in a similar way to the opener, with basic themes gradually explored and expanded upon until they reach a terrifying climax and with vocals used sparingly. The closer, Pagan
deserves special mention for having an especially haunting vocal performance that makes the song even more powerful.
For a good example of the kind of vibe that this album gives off, think of the scene in Lord of the Rings when Frodo and co. are making their way through a treacherous swamp en route to Mordor, with misleading fires burning all around and corpses hidden under the surface of the water. The atmosphere here is exactly the same, portraying fear, lack of direction and confusion perfectly.
There are a few flaws with Sail With the Tide
. Since all the songs sound so similar, it doesn't lend itself well towards repeated listening, although it's fairly short, so doesn't drag if just listened through once. Also, the title track is notably worse than the other tracks; it's not a bad song, and the atmosphere is still powerful, but it isn't nearly as enjoyable as the rest of the album. However, the musical ideas behind the album are far too strong to let the lack of diversity drag it down. I recommend this to any fan of music, since it is very accessible.
Songs devolop perfectly
Short; doesn't drag
Not great repeated listening
1. Following a False Beacon
3. Thousand of Plagues
4. Sail with the Tide