Review Summary: Heavy music for everyone.
From this point on, that is a dirty word. We aren’t going to mention it in any way to reference the Wellington, New Zealand quintet’s album at all during this review because it isn’t necessary. What we have here is a behemoth of a sophomore album that sheds the post-metal breezes of its predecessor in favor of rich textures and strong songwriting. This is a band that’s found their voice and is willing to use it in as many ways as possible to get their point across.
I think the best way to explain where this is coming from musically is to underline what makes post-metal, well…metal
. Within most albums of the genre, there’s an emphasis on being crushingly heavy and balancing that with a conceived underpinning of the build-ups of post-rock. With that in check, it could be easy to slap that term on and call it a day (see “Drought”) though you’d be missing the point. Yes, there are some tracks that swell and rise to brilliant conclusions, but not in the typical fashion. There’s an energy surging through even the most serene passages of Rainmaker
that remains until the end and carries the record through its forty-seven minutes without losing steam. The builds aren’t as extravagant and quells don’t lull you off, in a non-negative sense homogenizing the final product to push the focus on songwriting. Instead of getting sludge and calm, we get properly good songs that can stand up without a crescendo or low tuned crunchfest.
Highlighting the songwriting across the entire record is a wealth of texture and atmosphere not reliant on reverb or delay. Occupations changed ever so slightly between this record and Brighter
to limit the denseness of the record to a minimum, moving one of the guitarists to solely dedicate his space in the mix to keyboards and vocals, leaving the rest of the band much more room to breathe. The result of this change makes a spacious product that doesn’t get tiring in the same way Brighter
To lay it all out, we have a record that has been labeled by the band as “atmospheric post-hardcore”. And while it may seem odd to throw it in the ring next to the likes of Jawbox or At the Drive-In, it’s not too far a stretch. The noise here is
angular, and the songs are very straight to the point. The only thing that wouldn't make me commit to that title is the lack of a “hardcore” presence to justify it, because there isn’t one. There’s none of the urgency of punk rooting it down. It doesn’t drag its knuckles or start pits, so where does it fall and what should we call it?
This is a fantastic heavy (from a metal standpoint) album that wears its heart on its sleeve and cuts at all the right times. That’s the best I can come up with and I’m okay with that because I can’t pigeonhole most of my favorite albums. There is dissonance, and there is melody. There is unrefined abrasion and there are calculated slices. There is a record that will be played for years to come because it’s honest with what it is. As an honest listener, that’s all I could ask for.