We’ve often lamented the lack of originality that seems to abound in the spaces occupied by the cluster of genres known as desert/stoner rock. This cluster is both an offshoot and progenitor of post rock, seeing how it existed before it but nowadays enjoys more popularity amongst fans of its spawn than fans of the classic rock which originally birthed it. It seems as if, perhaps because of the instrumental nature of the genre or the tropes associated with it, most artists within desert rock seems content to simply rehash tired cliches and make music which leans more on theme and mood than any real interest or flair for composition. Thus, we’re always thrilled to highlight bands that work within desert rock and do more, moving past the timbres and moods inherent to the genre and into the realms of intriguing music.
Below A Silent Sky is a fantastic example. Hailing from Germany, they add to the ever-increasing number of great bands from western Europe (Stone From the Sky and Hubris. to name just two) who are working in the spaces between post metal, post rock and desert rock. Their March release, A View From Afar, weaves these influences into a heady elixir which moves between heavy hitting chords, spaced out meditations and prolonged sojourns in tremolo-picked leads. The opening track, “The Highest Shrine”, contains all that and more; the beating heart of the arrangements, the dynamo behind the vehicle that is Below A Silent Sky is, unsurprisingly, a great groove section. Both the drums and the bass are groovy as all hell, adding a certain slickness to the fuzzed out chords and poignant guitar leads.
The following track, “Caverns of Light”, doubles down on the post metal influences. It’s opening moments are all dexterous glory, crashing chords alternating between bar structures with ease while a sample plays ominously in the background. Quickly though, the desert rock influences are brought back to keep things interesting and create that momentum which drove the first track forward, a dedication to variety and pelvis moving dynamism that makes A View From Afar so appealing. It manages to channel the melancholic and somber vibes associated with desert rock into a formula that’s still nuanced, creating plenty of musical moments to pay attention to as well as passages which call on us to let go and let the rhythm sweep us away. And we haven’t even touched on the 18 minute epic which closes it all off. Get to listening.