As the story of post metal, one of the youngest sub-genres in metal today, continues to unfold, it’s becoming clear that the path forward lies in willingness to experiment. The “straight forward” aural barrage that first brought post metal to the forefront, the stripping down of doom, the incorporation of build-ups and crescendos from post-rock into metal’s heavy framework, the fresh use of hardcore vocals alongside bottomless melodies, ran its course pretty quickly. We all became tired of endless crescendos, of riffs so bottomless that the listeners find themselves with no purchase, flung into depths that lack definition and uniqueness. To be frank, post metal started to run together, like so much black and deep blue paint flung at a canvas; unique traits were muddled and the genre seemed stifled by its own trajectory.
But in recent years, bands like Latitudes, Telepathy, Cult of Luna and more have shown us that when dynamics are added back into the mix, post metal still has a lot to offer. If you vary things up, whether by introducing new blood into your band or by stretching the spider-chart of your influences into new vectors and shapes, there’s still plenty to be said within the spheres of post metal. Besra seem to have taken these lessons to heart; their debut album, Anhedonia, does a brilliant job of blending its post metal core with plenty of off-kilter vocals, dynamic track structures and mood that’s more than just the sensation of drowning in so much ink. This makes their album an impressive debut, able to scrap the foundations of post metal for what it needs, while dragging those basics into higher planes of composition and experimentation.
Opening track “First Dawn” is a micro-cosmos of all of this. It opens on ground that should be familiar enough to fans of post metal; the dreamy guitar lines which announce the album’s beginning are taken straight from the post-rock book. These are followed two minutes, after substantial build up, by the crashing chords and rumbling bass you’d come to expect. There’s plenty to enjoy already; the groove section is undeniable, reminding one of LLNN‘s devastating approach to rhythm with its chunky rumble. The vocals which follow are just as abrasive, thus far delivering all the post metal components we had been anticipating. But things take a sharp turn right around the four minute mark; the clean vocals which play across the more somber melodies of the middle passage of the track immediately grab our attention.
Their vibrato, channeling more grunge-y vibes and even some avant-garde touches, is immediately arresting. They are a perfect compliment to the harsh vocals, which return later, as the track ebbs and flows around heavy and more mellow, creepily catchy passages. Further down the album, these passages will be also be graced by weird synths backed with choirs while the heavier passages get more and more aggressive, until the album closes with the absolute carnage of closing track “Pariah”‘s outro. In the middle of these two tracks, post metal is given beautiful rendition, mixed and matched with enough influences and unique ideas to keep us hooked and paying attention. And this is all a debut release; who knows what Besra will do next?
Anhedonia sees release on September 7th via Temple of Torturous. Make sure to head on over to the Bandcamp link above to pre-order it.