Story time: the first time I heard Late. play their brand of sludgy, jam-styled, instrumental post-metal, I was in a friend’s basement for an impromptu house show that had only been scheduled one day ahead of time. Several Chicago-area DIY bands had all come together with about as little notice as possible for what was, all around, an absolutely fantastic bill, but Late. absolutely stole the show for me. Up close and personal, crammed in a sweaty, gross basement, I watched them jam through a few tracks and was totally awe-struck by their set, feeling something that, truth be told, I haven’t felt since the first time I saw Russian Circles perform. Between songs, one of their members casually dropped that they were recording a debut EP at the time. Immediately after the set, I went up to one of their guitarists, and said to him, “that was fucking awesome. If you’re down, I want to premiere the EP on the site I work for.”
And now, here we are, a couple months later, and holy shit, City of Storm is great. Striking a balance somewhere between the spaced-out syncopation of sludge acts like Intronaut and the post-metal-meets-jam ethos that defined the earlier years of the aforementioned Russian Circles, Late. achieves the wavering heave-ho of monolithic weight that’s so necessary to this genre, but never belaboring a point or spreading any idea out so thin that it loses cohesion or focus. There’s a strong commitment here to melody that weaves each piece together, and even as the band switches gears from hazy post-rock to lumbering sludge, the main narrative through line of the track stays present. These may be tracks you can lose yourself in, but City of Storm is only one constantly-looming switchup away from getting your attention back, and then some.
There’s something to be said for the full-band presence that these guys maintain, too: no singular member of the band ever seems to be carrying all the weight. This level of confidence is so rarely seen in a release so early into a band’s career, and it’s both impressive and satisfying to hear how each instrumentalist contributes to the group, letting their sound coalesce into a whole that is truly more than the sum of its parts. It’s this same confidence that lets them get away with covering the classic Baroness tune “Isak,” and boy, do they pull this song off with aplomb (seriously, this version could go blow-for-blow with the original any day).
By now, I’m sure you all get it: City of Storm kicks ass, and it’s one hundred percent worth the 20 minutes it’ll take out of your day to give this a spin. Post-metal fanatics, eat your heart out.