Damascus
Heights


4.5
superb

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
July 11th, 2013 | 38 replies | 9,781 views


Release Date: 07/10/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A darker and more mature take on Damascus's power brand of technical post-rock.

The album artwork for Heights does a pretty good job of representing just what the album is: a falling into a darker space for the Damascus that brought us the thoughtful-yet-weighty post-rock of 2011's Of Whom I Always Think. The group are still performing at the top of their game in an album that's filled with groove and compositional grace from the first piano ticklings of opening stand-out "Come to Light." Truly, for their two-years of seclusion (discounting the 2012 remix release prière d'espoir), the band are no worse for wear, and even show a subtle development in compositional fluidity.

The true shock of Heights is not in any lacking or longing for previous efforts, but the seeping presence of the dark ambiance hinted at by prière d'espoir. While Of Whom I Always Think posited a brighter, energetic soundtrack, Heights moves on from "Come to Light" to explore the shadows with an ever-present background moaning that shades the sound with an edge-of-your-seat gloom. All of this manages to lay a thin, sludgy glaze on top of highly technical guitar and bass work that bops from fret to fret with a practiced touch that's almost playful within the dark overtones.

As far as SAT-style analogies go, Heights is to Of Whom I Always Think as Scale the Summit's The Collective is to Carving Desert Canyons. The album displays a darker tone and a maturity that really only time could develop among highly skilled musicians. Through the power of hindsight, it's clearly visible that Heights is the next best logical step on Damascus's path to post-rock royalty. Hallmark sounds of the group such as the crushing twin rhythms, dancing bass grooves, and restrained yet highly proficient drumming on Of Whom I Always Think have been nurtured and cultivated on Heights while its spaced out side (see "Just Another Illustration") comes from the ambiance of prière d'espoir.

The two can be very different sides of the same coin, yet Damascus do a very strong job of unifying their sound through their 38 minute post-rock release. The flow throughout Heights is tight from start to finish and challenges post-rock with a technical approach and tone not unheard of in the technical metal world, making the album (and group) lauded stand-outs from the rest of the practiced world of slow-and-steady atmospheric rocking with their oft-uptempo groove.

I will note that Heights is not the easiest album to digest in a single sitting, though that's a case that should be common to the post-rock aficionado. There are layers of subtle nuance to Heights that make it the spectacular album that it is, and deconstructing all of them within one session is a chore as difficult as letting the album simply wash over you. Neither is the recommended course of action for this release. Rather, take your time with it. Chew slowly and thoughtfully and enjoy each moment and aspect one at a time. That's how this exquisite brand of post-rock is meant to be tasted.



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user ratings (44)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2013



1984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had some time to write this at work Album is excellent. I really hope for big things for these guys. They have it coming.

Digging: Rx Bandits - Gemini, Her Majesty

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2013



1984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also: 80th review, what up?

Calc
July 10th 2013



12114 Comments


"technical post-rock."

sold. where'd you get this?

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2013



1984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Derp. Here's the link to the group's bandcamp: http://damascusnj.bandcamp.com/

JasonCarne
July 11th 2013



242 Comments


Best band I've heard from my home state in quite a while. Rad stuff.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2013



10041 Comments


Sweet review, man. This sounds pretty solid from your description, I assume you think I'd like it? ;]

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2013



1984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You right well should, sir.

Eclecticist
July 12th 2013



3863 Comments


Too bad Damascus is dead because of the Syrian civil war.

firewasp
July 12th 2013



62 Comments


BA DUM Pshhh

MrElmo
July 12th 2013



1950 Comments


Damn it's even a pay as you wish, time to eat and digest

ZilbelPing
July 12th 2013



6099 Comments


Never heard of these guys but "darker...technical post-rock" has me sold. Will check out

XingKing
July 12th 2013



10321 Comments


"technical post-rock."

sold. [3]

JS19
July 12th 2013



4215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I would not call anything they've put out so far 'technical post rock' hmm

Digging: 68 - In Humor and Sadness

RogueNine
July 12th 2013



1214 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Technical post-rock? 0_o I must check this out like right now.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2013



1984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I would not call anything they've put out so far 'technical post rock' hmm"

Really? I saw Of Whom I Always Think as pretty technical and this is even moreso.

CrimsonLies
July 12th 2013



2017 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Interesting description, will check it out thanks

WhereSleepIsRest
July 12th 2013



99 Comments


Hmmm I have to say nicely written review, I think you've enticed me to check this out for sure! Sound very interesting and right up my alley. Now if I could only find it somewhere, as its not on iTunes...

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2013



1984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

damascusnj.bandcamp.com

Check it out there - it's free!

Cygnatti
July 13th 2013



21349 Comments


wow didn't even hear about this one.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2013



10041 Comments


Thom, have you heard Maybeshewill? This is reminding me of them, and they're one of my favorite post-rock bands. They really have an edge about them, which I also detect with these guys.



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