Review Summary: A return to the apex of post metal.
I know what you are thinking. Teamster came out from under to showcase another one of his favorite 2016 post-metal releases. Yes, I am guilty. I have a personal obligation here at Metal Storm to present the best post-metal albums I can find. The genre as whole lurks pretty much unsolicited on this site. Thankfully 2016 has been a great year for post-metal and the zenith is Mouth Of The Architect's latest release, Path Of Eight.
Path Of Eight has everything a fan of the genre craves and some unforeseen significance along the way: mainstays like crescendo, soft moments and debilitating, layered, sludge-style riffage; pounding drums and subwoofer-shaking bass lines; and, of course, Mouth Of The Architect's signature keyboards and synths. They do electronics better than any other band in the genre. Once again, they lay a firm foundation for the rest of the instruments to play over. Lastly, the vocals consist of a mix of smooth cleans and throat-killing screams. Up and down, back and forth. Just beautiful.
Much to my astonishment, other traits found in Path Of Eight not normally associated with Mouth Of The Architect are female vocals, ritualistic and tribal song patterns - giving the sound a psychedelic feel - and surprisingly tasteful guitar solos. Also, I won't go as far as to say they are in Ghost Brigade territory now, but there is even some refrain and melody in most of the songs. This alteration gives Path Of Eight diversity and a once-in-a-life time kind of sound. Nothing I've listened to this year comes close.
The production is the biggest selling point to my ears. In my humble opinion the last album was a step backwards for the band in that area. All of the instruments seemed too far spaced from each other. The cohesiveness was lacking. On Path Of Eight, it feels as though the musical additives are all situationally circled around a gentle campfire, pinging off of each other in absolute synchronization. The overall texture and tone sounds breathtaking - and very expensive to produce. I am glad Mouth Of The Architect didn't pull back any punches in that area. The reward definitely outweighed the risk.
Although the songs are considered short for post-metal - they are structured in a way that they can be briskly remembered after each play through. The musicianship is flawless, reaffirming the total package Path Of Eight is. I have been completely floored by Mouth Of The Architect and this album sits just a hair beneath their masterpiece, the mighty Quietly. That is saying a lot. There are still a few months to go in 2016, with some big name post-metal bands still to release albums, but I am already declaring Path Of Eight as my 2016 album of the year.