Review Summary: Slowly setting on the horizon, shining as bright as ever.
The journey of WRVTH could have fittingly ended at the self-titled. Following a name change and a departure from their deathcore roots, WRVTH
embodied the conclusion of an incredible stylistic transition that had only been hinted at previously; the California quintet had since capitalized, realized their potential, and provided an astounding album that merged the realms of atmospheric black metal, hardcore, and technical death metal seamlessly. Passion coursed through every second of the masterwork in the evocative harsh vocal performance, the gorgeous melodies—the entire package, really—making it an unforgettable experience. It reminded me why I listen to music in the first place and invest myself in the industry and love what it produces. However, in this particular case, it’s a decidedly mixed blessing; No Rising Sun
exists in part due to the nigh-impenetrable barrier to success presented towards smaller bands trying to survive, a consequence directly attributed to that same business I consistently subscribe to. The tiring trade and the associated struggle snagged WRVTH’s ascending star from the vast space of artists and condemned it to a premature demise. Instead of bending to fate and precisely to spite it, the intrepid collective assembled for a final effort, pouring every ounce of emotion—their grievances, their frustrations, their triumphs—into the true ending of this story. Any reservations that a sequel was unnecessary are defused immediately as the collective takes a further step, extending beyond explored territory into another domain that definitively exhibits an amazing evolution. Propelled by an immersive mood, a would-be victim of industry woes commits to a crushing, atmospheric route set to outlive its predestined shelf life.
Where polished technical metal chords a la The Flesh Prevails
-era Fallujah once reigned, there now persists a heightened influence of post-metal and an accompanying blackened edge. WRVTH already proved themselves experts at crafting lush soundscapes capable of displaying beautiful tremolos or thunderous intensity. Those eruptions of blast-beats and resonating bass riffs continue to appear in No Rising Sun
, albeit in a different capacity; their new purpose puts less emphasis on urgency and more on punctuating climactic moments. This doesn’t hamper the ability of the band and rather serves to reinforce their strengths. At the vanguard are stunning melodies that set the scene for a given track, each note adhering to whatever demands are placed upon them. No matter the desired output—ominous, haunting, mournful, yearning, pure heaviness—the lead guitars fit the bill spotlessly, showering the listener with their elegant tones or burying them under fast black metal riffs. Guiding the progression of included songs is a versatile percussion kit that walks tight-rope-style to balance artful restraint alongside frantic displays; combined with an omnipresent bass, the rhythm section holds down admirably and contributes greatly to how exactly pinnacles are achieved, manipulating guitar lines to crushing force just as easily as pushing them towards uplifting paths. Far in the background, desperately calling through the gloomy environment to be heard, is a monstrous vocal performance, every scream delivered like it may be the last. The lyrics penned by WRVTH are given life unlike fellow acts that may dismiss the need for contemplative phrases; sentences are held aloft by incredible instrumentals, and the finishing touch offered by the vocals cements their emotional message.
Regardless of intent, the entries presented here flow together immaculately, weighty crescendos precisely connected to opposing instances of post-rock serenity. Internally, the song compositions cycle through this valley-to-peak format, tempos accelerating and decelerating at equal rates with calm and aggression coexisting—a contradictory relationship that manages to highlight the power of the separate approaches. Patience acts as the driving factor, evidenced immediately by lead single and album opener “Eventide.” Technical fury is subdued in favor of maintaining an overarching mood that portrays agony at its bottommost depths. Paired off with this motif is a very dense production quality; as the track accrues momentum, all string instruments and the percussion kit are clearly heard as they slowly enter the fray, their initial grace dismantled by a melodic explosion. An even more dramatic example follows in the subsequent “Pirouette of Hysterics,” a song that announces itself in an opening salvo of blast-beats and dissonant riffs, only to promptly regress into delicate drumming, which in turn allows WRVTH to reconstruct itself, unleashing impressive guitar harmonies to bring about another authoritative culmination of sound. As outstanding as those introductory demonstrations are, they refrain from dispensing everything the band is capable of, and surprises continue to afford amazement. Never before has the group attempted formations quite like “Undertow”: a tune that dedicates itself to elegant post-rock strumming, the distant crooning of a female voice hidden behind the light instrumentation. A brief piano interlude finds itself destroyed by a scream of absolute anguish and a surge of black metal intensity, with previous sophistication torn to pieces by haunting vibrations. After such a violent upswell, however, the track is allowed to fade away in peace, twinkling guitar tones slowly winding down the runtime.
Any worries that WRVTH have forsaken their laudable straightforward attacks of the past are dispelled in the furious “House of the Centenary.” Dueling leads grapple for control over the song’s melodic foreground as an uptempo percussion kit races through trademark hostility and technical fills, every motion morphing the pacing and rhythm of the musical number. The similarly titanic “Enshrined,” after biding its time with ambient guitar passages and a haunting tremolo, races onward, plunging into a shining example of the virtuosity discovered under any portion of No Rising Sun
. In particular, “Enshrined” confidently showcases a critical cornerstone of WRVTH’s accomplishments: the interplay between the drumming performance and the charismatic guitar section. Prior to the song’s midway point, the three members engage in a vicious trade-off that explores the full kit, the guitarists keeping stride in an outpouring of shimmering high notes. Towards the conclusion of the song is an unexpected breakdown spearheaded by the drumming, its speed leaping ahead and behind, always maintaining the engagement of the listener through a refusal to settle into predictability. The fact that numbers akin to the aforementioned pieces are intermingled amongst multiple different developments—brief interval “Calcified to Stone,” the mood-soaked “Undertow,” the bass-pioneered chaos of “Headstones”—and they never sound out-of-place is a commendable feat. Songs hold unique personalities while managing to link together with others, each beginning and each ending woven into the fabric of the entire album to secure maximum cohesion and preventing jarring conversions.
The proceedings of No Rising Sun
wound be incomplete save for that atmosphere that ties the effort together. WRVTH’s sonic identity resides on the upper end of the scale, tenor tones forging the bedrock of the collective’s melody-centric tactics. It leaves room to explore the spectrum of despair that doubtlessly fueled the band to create this work in the first place. Death, loss, and resignation lurk in the dark recesses of this final disc, all sensations tied under a theme of restlessness—not knowing one’s place, not knowing where to find solace. Nowhere is this crippling sensation experienced with such veracity as the sorrowful, grief-ridden epic “Dust and Moonlight.” Stretching across nine minutes—the longest creation in WRVTH’s discography—a monumental post-metal riff engages in a plodding pace, forcibly dragging the listener along to guarantee complete understanding of the torment compelling the band to concoct something so extremely depressing. Yet, as the screams diminish and the piano returns to deal a soul-crushing blow, a strange unearthing is made. Because of the pain, because of that unyielding disquiet, there lies a clashing sensation: beauty.
“There's a high-pitched ring
That grows louder and louder.
There's no articulating it but it seems so prolific,
Like the novelty pieces scattered on the mantle
That have no reason but seem to be the only place they belong:
Dull, lifeless, beauty
Endlessly starving for a place to truly rest.”
Few, if any other vocalists could describe such an incapacitating emotion in a manner so unquestionably genuine. Even fewer, if any other musical artists in sum could coalesce their mutual talents into an album tortured by life’s many woes, simultaneously shining in the glow of beauty. The many melodies populating No Rising Sun
are gripping in their diversity and relatable in how they can so accurately measure human trials to any extent. Intricate death metal chords, vicious black metal, and imposing post-metal structures charge forth, the mixture of genres executed perfectly. Rising above the bedlam, conquering misery and severing brutality, is the abundance of glorious, indescribably attractive melodic tones. As WRVTH’s star begins to sink below the horizon line—as the hardships of the industry bear down—the band makes an ultimatum, refusing to exit unless it comes on their terms. The descent of No Rising Sun
shines magnificent hues across the sky, its radiance puncturing through the shadows that can consume our lives. It is an impactful release that proudly wears its broken, battered heart on its sleeve. Those fortunate enough to open themselves totally to the atmosphere circling around the album will be wrapped up in a truly rare, rewarding experience.