Review Summary: On this third official outing the band has shaped their sound to its fullest definition, the delivery intentional, realized and whole.
Silhouettes of towers collapsing, rivers damming with ash and skies full of black smoke whisking semaphore abstracts, the snow of the fallout thawed by the forge in their throats. This is the Quiet Earth.
Over these next 44 minutes what you will hear is relentless, explosive, and primal. There are very few shades of light in these dark corners, and what semblance of hope remains is suffocated by the weight of a heavy hand. One gets the sense of observing this pandemonium as the album progresses, a silent vessel muted by black tape as you stand with your feet planted firmly on the gray ground.
The vocals churn and pulverize, trading between the members and guests of Morrow in chaotic bursts. The slow plodding tropes of the post-metal genre are little to none on the record and instead are replaced by fragmented chunks of dissonant blasts and walls of impenetrable sound. The reflective parts are spaced appropriately throughout the record, offering a chance for the listener to catch their breath despite the poisoned air. The cello works its way underneath the mammoth score, peaking melancholy summits when the distortion and bellowing ceases for only moments at a time.
This suffocating delivery does not come without its diminishing returns, especially on first listen. The overall sound of the record can be exhausting almost to a fault, until the beauty of the layers and arrangements overtakes the heavy handedness that is most apparent to virgin ears. The mix has the burden of gluing these monstrosities together, and the production choices lend artistic elements and flavors to the overall piece in cohesive and intricate ways.
The acoustic strumming of the opener is crisp and clean, yet the undertones subtly reflect on what is to come. The distorted guitar tones are crusty, thick and dry, sitting at a level that allows the rest of the mix to breathe and draws focus to other areas of importance as necessary. The drums are forward and punkish furthering the distance of this album from its genre peers that otherwise rely on builds and sprawling climaxes.
On this third official outing the band has shaped their sound to its fullest definition, the delivery intentional and realized and whole. The sonic risks taken here are the only subtlety of the record and must be discovered rather than spoon-fed. They come in the form of norms dismissed, a genre broken apart and pieced back together to fit the narrative of the end of days. Where contemporaries would rely upon the tried and true formula of rise and fall, Morrow instead chooses to rise and rise and rise until the weight of the composition caves in upon itself in the best of ways, a collapse of calculated demise.
You as the observer of this pandemonium have a choice as the record comes to a close, do you remove the black tape from your lips and call out to the ghosts of the world, or do you stay silent as the earth lies still and gray?