We’ve been lamenting the flaws inherent in post metal for a while now. For at least an equal amount of time however, we’ve also been discussing some bands that have discovered solutions to several of the more major flaws, producing what we believe to be the hope for the sub-genre. Ever since Telepathy blew us away in 2014 with their 12 Areas., their name has been a staple of such “savior lists”. Progressive, evocative and impressive, 12 Areas. was everything that post metal needed at the time. And today? Where does Tempest, releasing today, stand in the ranks of post metal? Why, right where we’d expect it: in the front. Tempest sees Telepathy under a sea-change, a shift in focus and flavor that does wonders for their conviction and their resulting sound.
You’d be hard pressed to find a harder working band out there. Telepathy constantly tour Europe (and as testament to that, we’ve hosted their tour diary on the blog in the past) and work at making their music not only technically proficient but emotionally effective. That’s exactly what they’ve done with Tempest. It is, perhaps, a less wild and chaotic album but that also makes it punch harder and deeper. While “Smoke From Distant Fires” might sound still complex, the change is immediately apparent on the following doublet of “Celebration of Decay” and “Echo of Souls”. Both tracks feature more prominent bass and rich, echoing guitars which delve the depths that 12 Areas. often flirted with. However, they stay at those oceanic chasms longer, exploring their continuing crush and impact.
The latter also includes abrasive and instantly shattering vocals by the band’s bassist. Completely absent from the previous albums, these vocals (while only appearing once on Tempest) still create a unique lacuna within the album’s flow, a nadir into which aggression, heartbreak and loss flow. The second such moment is the brilliant “Hiraeth”, which we’ve already lauded at length on the blog. It remains a masterful track even in context, gathering around it the rest of the album’s buildup and outputting immense strength and expression. It also sets the stage for “Waters Divides the Tide”, perhaps the track which exemplifies the shift in approach from the previous album.
On the previous effort, the tremolo picks on this track would go in much more discordant and diverging directions, probably breaking off numerous times only to join together at the end. This is what gave 12 Areas. its signature, chaotic feel. But here, on Tempest, those tremolo picks stay together, remain cohesive in their objective to pummel the listener. What remains chaotic and divergent are the drums, expertly executing intriguing fills/cymbal work over the riffs. When they explode into blastbeats, one of the best drum passages in the history of the band unfold. By the time the quiet outro arrives, we’re all but enchanted, hanging on every note of the track’s ultimately tragic progression.
In general, the drums are where a lot of the manic violence of 12 Areas. has been preserved and, often in contradiction to the more static composition of bass and guitar, they insist on being furiously varied. This formula works extremely well. Tempest benefits from this simplicity and direct approach, paving a straight and true road directly to the heart of the listener. We didn’t quite think it possible but it manages to be even darker than its predecessor. Where 12 Areas. mingled its oppressiveness with a fair deal of musical wanderings and improvisations, Tempest hits and then hits harder, engulfing the listener in its atmosphere. Both albums remain absolute pinnacles of post metal and Telepathy remain secure in their position is one of the most important and proficient young, fresh names in post metal today. The album is out now; go get it.