01. Souls of the Sky
02. It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour
03. An Invisible Thread
04. The Culling
05. Ti Progetto
06. Was Only A Dream

[Relapse Records]

It’s always a treat to hear an album that instills some sense of power in its listener. You know, those rare albums that make you feel like you can accomplish anything from conquering evil to causing great destruction. It doesn’t happen all that often (to me at least), but when it does, nothing compares. Arkansas-based sludge/doom outfit Rwake‘s new record Rest is sort of like one of those albums, in that it makes me want to get stoned and beat up some dragons with my bare fists, but I won’t enjoy it because I’m too pissed off and depressed because I’m going to die soon anyway. I mean that in a good way, mind you.

Four years between albums seems like quite a while, doesn’t it? Luckily I only got into the powerhouse that is Rwake recently, so the wait wasn’t so bad. 2007’s Voices of Omens was certainly a stellar record, and the band’s longtime fans must have been on the edge of their seats these past couple of years as Rwake laid low with nary a peep until they finished up their new album earlier this year. I can imagine what the wait feels like, as it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing a new record from labelmates Genghis Tron any time soon, but I’m getting off-topic. The point is, fans cans rest easy knowing that Rwake didn’t waste away over the years; Rest sees Rwake on top-form and as strong as ever. Hell, Rest might even be a one-up on Voices of Omens.

Rest is a very progressive album that takes on a somewhat narrative tone, which is quite interesting. Vocalist C.T.’s shouted poetic lyrics and the almost score-like and evolving songwriting style does good on Rest‘s promise of ushering in the end times. Rest certainly feels like a single cohesive listen that moves towards a common goal, and it feels sincere and emotional — though, to call an album as grim as Rest “sincere and emotional” alongside the phrase “poetic lyrics” would almost be a disservice to how absolutely crushing it is. In that respect, as all great doom should be, Rest is intense for all the right reasons in both music and in lyrical and vocal delivery.

The vocal work on Rest is excellent. As mentioned above, C.T. often shouts his lyrics in a way that feels more like stylized narration than a self-aware vocalist delivering lyrics in an obligatory fashion. When the lyrics need a more straightforward delivery, his powerviolence-worthy snarling isn’t something to take lightly, and synth player/sampler B’s blackened shrieks complement C.T. well and are legitimately frightening.

The musical side of Rwake may actually now be better than ever as well. The downtime between records was clearly spent honing their craft with distinguished and versatile playing, from the twangy southern-meets-psychedelic “Souls of the Sky” to the beautifully clean and ominous guitars of “The Culling” and the chilling solo on “Was Only A Dream” — not to mention the endless array of trudging riffs that could crush a child or small animal under their weight. The songs find themselves at great lengths as well, with plenty of room for the atmosphere of the time to be thoroughly explored without a hint of meandering, which is no easy task.

On the surface, Rwake may be unassuming, but this six-piece can jam for 16 minutes and have you on the edge of your seat for every last second (don’t believe me? Listen to “The Culling”). Their return will no doubt see itself on many year-end retrospectives, and rightly so; Rest is a massive record in just about every sense of the word, forward-thinking with its trance-inducing and almost psychedelic peek into death and demise. Needless to say, it’s fucking awesome.

Rwake – Rest gets…


– JR


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