Review Summary: Scandinavian sludge band wakes up and smells the coffee.
We’ve all experienced it: dead asleep, transfixed in the middle of a cinematic dream that appears so tangible you actually think it’s part of reality. Whether they are chilling nightmares that leave you quivering in a cold sweat with your heart in your mouth or a transcending experience that you fight to wake up from, the act of dreaming is an inescapable and uncontrollable act in nearly all living things. Modern psychologists believe that dreaming is the gateway to the unconscious mind, while ancient history declares that the interpretation of dreams is a supernatural means of communication and the pathway to divine intervention.
For the past 2 years, Linköping‘s Siberian has documented the events of their personal dreams. Rather than questioning what dreams are, what they mean and how to interpret them, Siberian’s second album “Through Ages of Sleep”
is dedicated to illustrating dreams in a musical format. As the next part of Siberian’s thematic “Age Trilogy”, their sophomore album displays increased maturity over their debut, “Modern Age Mausoleum”
which was a dark take on modern society and influenced by dystopian literature.
As a metal band, one of the best subgenres to detail these dreamlike visions is post-metal. Sometimes beat-free and ambient, occasionally fiercely aggressive; the attitudinal progression of post-metal bands like Cult of Luna and Neurosis base their music on, on paper, is the perfect choice to illustrate the lucidness and morphing intervals of dreams. Songs like ‘Dirge’ capture the melancholy impression Siberian stick to throughout the album by way of fragile melodies and Gus Ring’s gliding clean vocals that escalate into a brilliant crescendo of confident singing and striding grooves. Other tracks that prominently feature post-rock qualities include ‘Witness’ and ‘Anima Astray’. Both songs feature bright, kaleidoscopic riffing patterns and depend on an unhurried pace of building suspense and intensity. The latter begins with lazy Earth-like drums while the former features hypnotic strings towards the end of the song that induce a soporific effect, appropriately. Furthermore, the drumbeat on the intro, ‘Ascend’, perfectly represents a hypnic jerk; another way Siberian manage to portray the sense of sleep into their music. It’s incredibly simple, but effective.
Hailing from Sweden, there is a distinct Scandinavian sense to their music too. While the Scandinavian sound is normally applicable to bands such as At The Gates, (Early) In Flames and Soilwork, Siberian chose to blend this melodic take on abrasive music not with death metal, but with sludge. Tonnes of hulky riffs are unearthed in “Through Ages of Sleep”
that has more in common with Mastodon and High on Fire than they do with Siberian’s neighbours. They bring down the sludgehammer hard during ‘Heresy Breath’, starting with a tired melody that eventually contorts into bulldozing riffs that are heavy on Angus Norder’s bass. Daniel Eklöw’s drumming is also effective. He flexes between intensities that allow the guitars to simmer; when the guitars reach boiling point, that’s when the drums kick in to escalate the sensation further.
The mixing on “Through Ages of Sleep”
is what prevents the album from being truly brilliant. As a concept, the flow of the songs is especially reminiscent of the meandering nature of dreaming where your visions fade from scene to scene sporadically. However, as musical content, it feels a bit discordant, especially when Siberian attempt combining herculean riffs that could fit in Mastodon’s “Leviathan”
with pensive illusory melodies found on Sólstafir’s “Ótta”
. Siberian displays nothing unheard of in the genre of post-metal, although their take on it is executed very well. Nonetheless, this is an excellent album based upon a fascinating concept.