The Week in Reviews is sometimes like riding a roller coaster, there are some ups and downs. Find out what new releases we liked and which ones not so much after the jump.
Like with any good roller coaster you have to start at the bottom and work your way up and that’s just how This Week in Reviews goes.
Nick Cusworth gets us started with his 3.5/5 look at the new record from Texas post-rockers This Will Destroy You. Nick notes the band’s 2011 release Tunnel Blanket was the result of years of experimentation and led to a “cavernous” sound.
“In that sense, Another Language feels like an appropriate and logical extension of the path set forth by Tunnel Blanket and prior EPs. Distance and isolation are once again front-and-center thematically, though they are now undercut with a tint of wistful nostalgia thanks to the seeming omnipresence of a wobbly analog synth sound that would feel at home at the base of a Boards of Canada track.”
While Nick praises the “great and emotional stuff happening in all these tracks,” he worries it all becomes tedious after a while.
“But the moments where it becomes more of a chore to understand it all rather than have it simply feel resonant are what ultimately bring this album down a notch or two from Tunnel Blanket.”
Our roller coaster takes a further dip when Scott Murphy can manage only 2.5/5 for the seventh record from Dark Fortress. Scott says the sound on Venereal Dawn is anything but mature.
The record might suggest a “band (that)is a young, ambitious group for whom a large dose of Ritalin would have been beneficial during their time in the studio. For across Venereal Dawn’s nine tracks, a clear lack of musical focus and ideas leads to an album that desperately wishes to dazzle with a variety of sounds without being entirely competent in doing so.”
Ouch. Scott says the problem is that Dark Fortress tries to take its Black Metal sound and make it prog.
“Dark Fortress’ lack of sonic development in the span of tiring lengths of time provides Venereal Dawn with a pace somewhere between a limp and a crawl. The band may have aimed to sound progressive, but the end result is underwhelming stagnation.”
Now our roller coaster is definitely on the upward incline with Aaron Lambert’s 4.5 review of the new record from Polish Death masters Decapitated.
Aaron reviews the tragic history of this band and its triumphal return a few years back with Carnival Is Forever.
“Now, three years later, this resilience carries on in the form of Blood Mantra, a very different album for Decapitated, but one that sees the band evolving naturally and reaching yet another creative high.”
Aaron says there are hints of Decapitated’s discography throughout Blood Mantra but it’s also a band not afraid to evolve and grow musically.
“Simply put, Blood Mantra is a much more streamlined record than anything Decapitated have done before. Vogg’s lead playing is as impressive and acrobatic as it’s ever been, but his sense of groove is where his true strength has always lied, and it’s more impeccable than ever on Blood Mantra. When Vogg finds that groove, he rides it for all it’s worth, and he is such an adept songwriter that even listening to him play a riff over and over again doesn’t get tiring; the title track or the damn-near danceable break that occurs two-thirds of the way through “Instinct” are prime examples of this.
Certainly good news for fans of one of the biggest names in Death Metal.
The roller coaster reaches its apex with a combined 5/5 two-part review of the new Mono double-release — The Last Dawn/Rays of Darkness.
Eden starts us off with a look at The Last Dawn which he notes is infused with the traditional concept of duality. The first half of the double-album explores the musical ramifications of the interactions of light and darkness.
“On the way, the band delve deep into the coils of their own sound, the bare bones of who they are as artists, and delve the pits of their own annihilation. The result is an unequivocally superb exploration of exploration and refusal, embrace and rejection, new birth and timely death of all that Mono is and was.”
While The Last Dawn is an ambitious release, Eden says it never loses track of what makes this band special.
“These songs are organic and grow in the way that a single cell can transform over time into a beautiful living, breathing thing. They swell and evolve from the simplest of ideas into grand peaks without ever losing track of the simple beauty that defined them. No tricks, no gimmicks, no abrupt stops and starts. Just the pure rhapsody of a single idea throughout until the moment has run its course.”
This interplay of day and night, light and darkness wrap up the first half of the double-release “but while this piece may be over, Mono are not. When the dawn comes to a close, when the day plays out, and the last light escapes us, time moves on. And what remains in its place requires another album to explore.”
Nick Cusworth launches right into the sounds that make up the second half of this Mono release in Rays of Darkness.
“From this quintessential jumping point, Mono are set to launch us into Rays of Darkness. And, as with all attempts at escape velocity, violence is sure to follow such an effort. This violence takes the form of opening track ‘Recoil Ignite’.”
That duality that Eden noted continues through the paradox of “Rays of Darkness” before shining through into a unified whole.
Nick observes, “(the two albums) are a statement, a drawing of the line and a deconstruction: we are Mono and this is our sound. Stripped of everything but the absolutely necessary, they have created a package that is utterly necessary. It is beautiful, harsh, delicate, and pure.”
Again a perfect score for both ends of the dual release from Mono.