Review Summary: Lost to darkness, lost to Nature.
I traverse The Woods
like a child in the middle of the night, stumbling down the hallway in dire need of a glass of water. The fourth effort conceived by Erik Nilsson and Jakob Berglund feels like a daydream experience, but also as something that manages to keep you awake, so you can sense its elegiac darkness closing in. It's not a feeling I would describe as fear. Instead, the vast scenery that the music evokes delights in the solace of finding yourself in the womb of Mother Nature, untouched, eternal, and for all that matters, nowhere to be found.
A Swarm of The Sun have always drawn heavily from post rock. Their formula though has always bolstered additional elements like vocals and heavier passages that somehow pulled them apart from the great stream of anodyne, one-note drone bands, that so often love to self-indulge in their craft. The young ferocity of their debut, Zenith
, and the unpredictability of their well-acclaimed sophomore album, The Rifts
, are still present on A Swarm of The Sun's latest release, but they have been subdued, evolved, and in the best sense of the word, aged. Even if The Woods
rummages in a very crowded pool, it does so with undeniable prowess.
The latest proposal of the band is very simple: three tracks, thirteen minute each, and all of them woven with petrifying melodies that feed on subtle build-ups until discharging bombastic finales. It's arguably a gulp of pocket-post rock, but it's distilled and condensed specifically to leave a luscious aftertaste.
The doleful piano that introduces "Blackout" instantly conveys that feeling of repose and timelessness that breathes from the landscape summoned in The Woods
. Soon enhanced by a mourning cello and a ritual tom, the song goes on as strings rain gently, creating an imposing moment of peace. A Swarm of the Sun seem to aim for a larger scope here, and thus every section is stretched out and thoroughly explored before being ultimately unleashed into the unknown.
Jakob Berglund's vocals don't appear until the self-titled track, positioned in the middle, crooning in his particularly frostbitten style accompanied by some forlorn chorus. It's in this track where the band recalls their old sound, towards the middle, making use of a steady drumbeat to patiently sculpt a tower of sounds. Layer after layer, the song grows to an unfathomable height, only to be blown up in a conclusive ecstasy.
The bleak landscape formed by monolithic trees used in the promotion video for "An Heir to the Throne”, the third and closing track, is a fitting radiography of the album's soul. Berglund's vocals open this titanic tune once again with a woeful vocal line, while a fainting battle drum marks the pace with solemnity. In its equinox, the song finally breaches, allowing the everlasting guitars, drenched in delay and reverb, to continue their resolute pilgrimage towards the inexorable storm that marks the end of the album.
A Swarm of the Sun have taken their sound to a next level. It may be not the direction that suits part of their audience but it’s, undoubtedly, a fine piece of art. The Woods
is an album designed to lose yourself in, a sensory journey that you will eventually long for, and the most logical step for a band that is now more than ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with the tallest bodies of the genre.