Review Summary: Soaring crescendos and beautiful yet sinister ambiance make for a stunning masterpiece of Post-Rock.
As I tried to sit and write why this album is so great, I experienced some extreme writers block. Literally every first sentence I deleted right off the bat and I couldn't understand why. Then I figured out that maybe the problem is that this masterpiece of Post-Rock actually left me speechless. I laid in bed in the dark while listening and the emotions that want through me was unlike anything a piece of music has ever done to me. As the final minutes of the album closed I literally muttered to myself "oh my god" because the subtle ambiance was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I myself have never considered ambient noises music, but that close minded thought no longer inhabits my mind. The bleak nothingness in this pinnacle of Post-Rock opened my eyes to see how beautiful ambient noises coupled with instrumentals can actually be.
The whole atmosphere of the album can not be described with one word. It's bleak, sinister, disturbing and at times even soothing and inspiring. As soon as "Storm" started, it brought to mind another titan Post-Rock band Explosions In The Sky. Once that thought went through my head, I thought I knew what to expect. However, as the piece progressed, the music and tone of the album changes into sometime totally different. The middle section of "Storm" is dark, brooding and extremely heavy. The entire song is one soaring crescendo that leads up to this section. It’s droning guitars and ominous percussion fills you with a sense that you are walking into danger and the bleak piano coupled with the strange recorded voices make for a beautiful ending.
If you are not already in awe of this experience, “Static” will make sure of that. Once the vocal recordings of a man preaching about God sets in, you will be fully immersed. You really get the feeling that the whole song is showing the negative side of faith because of the hard hitting sinister atmosphere. The somber yet chilling stings swell into more droning guitars and driving percussion. As the heavy section deconstructs itself, it gives way to haunting ambient noise that could literally be straight out of a horror movie. The despair continues into “Sleep” as a recording of a man begins. However, this time it is simply an old man recalling his memories. The awe inspiring crescendos continue all the way through and the drumming is the true highlight of this piece. The tone changes into an inspiring final five minutes as the strings and soaring guitars fade away.
Everything changed for me once the album's final minutes approached. Once the recordings of country vocals came to a halt, the beauty of ambiance took over as the droning noises swelled. Literally stunned and at a loss for words, this is the moment I muttered to myself, “oh my god.” Never in my life as an album ever had this effect on me and it was the perfect way to end this masterpiece.
There is rarely an album that is perfect. If you look hard enough you could definitely find a flaw in this record. Maybe some of the vocal recordings overstay their welcomes and the same can be said for some of the ambient sections. This is what I thought when I was listening to it, but as I listened again and again, I realized that there is a reason for everything on Skinny Fists. Everything has a purpose on the record and nothing feels out of place. This is certainly a defining Post-Rock record and if there is any fan of Post-Rock that has not heard this before, you are missing out. Throw this on and be taken away.