Damascus
When Last We Met


4.6
superb

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
November 24th, 2014 | 41 replies


Release Date: 11/25/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vivid, emotional, and evocative. Damascus once again prove they deserve recognition at the top of the post-rock realm.

"Everything Was Burning" isn't how I expected When Last We Met would begin. Sure, Heights had some similarly heavy sections on tracks like "All Points Below," but nothing in these New Jersey post-rockers' back catalog seems to have the sort of burst and aggression of this album's opener and it certainly deviates from the soft openings of previous outings. But, rather than establish a tone of luster as with the immaculate "Come to Light," "Everything Was Burning" places you at the center of disaster - flames licking down the walls around you, trapped within the confines of a post-metal rocker that easily conjures up fond memories of bands like Isis.

And then, peace - or some semblance of it.

Sudden and solitary, the embers fade to ashes as you look on, feeling scorched and empty. "Breathless" begins with a somber, ringing intro that paces itself into the tentative hope of a looping, rapidly tapped melody. Things, at this point, take a twist away from the immense and consuming heaviness of the album opener and steer us back towards the fragile darkness showcased on last year's Heights. With rays of light beaming into the post-rock shadowbox from time to time in the form of bright guitar melodies and powerfully emotive string arrangements, Damascus play a constant contrast to themselves on When Last We Met, and it (once again) works to perfection.

While certain tracks bring back successful clashes between bright piano leads and dark, heavy riffs, the primary focus here is placed on turning simple musical aspects into large, overarching tracks with stories told by crescendos, shifting moods, tempos, articulations, and more. Whether you’re looking at the simple introductory acoustic chords of the title track or the hypnotic pulse of “Morning Star,” every track pulls its musical elements together slowly, appropriately, and deliberately like a force of gravity unifying the perfect mix of chemicals to condense a planet.

Damascus have always sort of worked this post-rock crescendo of elements to a finely-tuned perfection on previous outings, yet with the incorporation of additional orchestral instruments both bowed and plucked, Damascus somehow find a way to add depth to an already deep and impactful sound without the clutter of overcrowding. Every track sounds rich and full with each instrument contributing its own weight and more to tie everything together extraordinarily neatly. Yes, as a one-off, "Everything Was Burning" feels cluttered and chaotic at times, but you get a very distinct sense that it's a purposeful chaos - a (very impressive) palate cleanser set to open your ears up for the musical feast to come.

And when every track feels so full, vibrant and purposeful, you could be forgiven for filling up one track at a time - for a 38 minute album, When Last We Met takes many listens to fully process. Yet the flow of the album feels so seamless up to the point of closer "Wake" (whose overwhelmingly positive acoustic introduction is a jarring counter to the looping minor key outro and low double bass swells of predecessor "Morning Star") that you may just find yourself indulging fully and often. Of course, as "Wake" expands and develops, it fits right in with the rest of When Last We Met, lending credence and purpose to an initial tonal contrast found nowhere else on the album.

With such a persistently impressive catalog of music, Damascus are growing hard to ignore. From shattering, percussive bombast to intricate, soaring melodies, When Last We Met is a showcase for a group of very talented musicians to combine their efforts to create something huge, beautiful, and at times, dangerous. It is something as shimmeringly bright as it is terrifyingly dark, with all manner of vibrant colors painted across the spectrum of introspection in-between.

Personified, When Last We Met is decidedly human - both singing and groaning; hoping and despairing. It feels like an album that breathes some mysticism into reality, but which never breaks into a plane of fiction; determined to excel within the internal and external realms it was born into. Perhaps that's a bit flowery, but this is the sort of album that paints vivid pictures and stirs emotions. And with a track record for doing just that only enhanced by When Last We Met, I see nothing stopping Damascus from becoming the preeminent force in post-rock today and for the many todays to come.




Recent reviews by this author
Steven Page Discipline: Heal Thyself, Pt. IICoheed and Cambria The Unheavenly Creatures
Deafheaven Ordinary Corrupt Human LoveTesseracT Sonder
Metallica The Unnamed FeelingDisperse Foreword
user ratings (54)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
inca829
November 24th 2014


21 Comments


Just heard the title track and now I can't wait to get it tomorrow

Ignimbrite
November 24th 2014


6522 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I need this so badly. Great review.

Totengott
November 24th 2014


4223 Comments


I just listened to the title track and I like it, checking this out.

Nice review.

SeaAnemone
November 24th 2014


21407 Comments


what's this similar to?

AtomicWaste
Moderator
November 24th 2014


2789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

Maybeshewill and Cloudkicker's smoother, longer stuff are decent comparisons, though I think they're really their own thing by now.



Full-length will be out tomorrow at damascusnj.bandcamp.com!

BMDrummer
November 24th 2014


14440 Comments


this sounds really good, will check these guys

RadicalEd
November 25th 2014


9430 Comments


heights was pretty good, review is great. Will check.

hogan900
November 25th 2014


2901 Comments


Heights was ok, but you persuaded me to check this out. Can't wait to listen to it.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
November 25th 2014


2789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

It's out now! gogogo: http://damascusnj.bandcamp.com

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
November 25th 2014


6680 Comments


name your price, eh. can't really go wrong



VisionsFromTheDarkSide
November 25th 2014


2409 Comments


Awesome review, this looks very interesting

zaruyache
November 25th 2014


20358 Comments


WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN OMFG

Digging: Downfall of Gaia - Ethic of Radical Finitude

DjentyNerdo
November 25th 2014


258 Comments


Damn, this is a fun album. Has that Cloudkicker vibe to it.

Yazz_Flute
November 26th 2014


18939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm liking this more than I expected to.

baldymort
November 26th 2014


932 Comments


This is pretty fantastic

Totengott
November 26th 2014


4223 Comments


Damn, this rules hard.

Penis
November 26th 2014


26 Comments


awesome!

SpoonerMcgee
November 26th 2014


106 Comments


This is fucking amazing so far. Holy shit.

SpoonerMcgee
November 26th 2014


106 Comments


Drowning in tears right now. So beautiful. ;_;

Apollo
November 26th 2014


10678 Comments


Liking the track you linked. Good review.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy