Review Summary: Hauntingly uplifting and disturbingly sanguine, Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes will dwell within your inner being for generations to come.
When ISIS disbanded in 2009, the post metal scene went on a quick and utterly steep decline. Aaron Turner and company left a huge hole in the genre that simply could not be filled, which to this day still remains as a large gap in the heart of the once prominent field. However, rising from the fog of obscurity, Downfall of Gaia create a fantastic endeavor towards returning some relevance to the long forgotten genre with their latest record, Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes.
What made Epos such a memorable journey was its impenetrable atmosphere, and why fix what isn't broken? Downfall of Gaia's sophomore effort features the band's now signature dark atmosphere while effortlessly conveying a sense of hopelessness without quite reaching the desolation that has made Neurosis a household name. This time around though, the German outfit sacrifices a bit of density for a more sustained and thorough album. Reaching almost an hour, Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes showcases a bit more of a melodic side, like with the beginning of track “I Fade Away”. These almost harmonious moments serve as an incredibly well executed contrast to the dark depths of the remainder of the record while also offering some reprieve before the onslaught progresses yet again.
The most impressive thing present in the record is the band's reluctance to rush their sound. Too many times has a band found a unique riff or melody only to accelerate headfirst into it, instead of letting yourself ease into it naturally. One of the defining moments in the record is towards the end, during the build up in the beginning of the track “Giving Their Heir to the Masses”. Rather than speed into the crescendo of the climax, the band plays a trick on you and actually slows the pace down to an almost unbearable crawl. As the listener, you can feel the summit of the mountain you've been climbing throughout the album, but it's just out of your grasp. Finally, after what seems like thousands of aeons, the height of your aural enterprise is reached, and made all the sweeter because of the tumultuous journey you experienced to get there. This is entirely indicative of the exploration required to penetrate the shell of this monstrosity.
Sophomore releases are almost always defined as a maturing point in a young band's career, and Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes is an incredible example of growth and advancement. The album displays the ensemble becoming more confident in their sound, which only contributes to the overall experience. With the amalgamation of all these elements, and the execution of a band beyond its years, Downfall of Gaia make a huge statement with what could be one of the finest post metal records in recent memory.