TToL - Downbeat

As teased last weekTangled Thoughts of Leaving have released the Downbeat EP, which includes the lead single off of their upcoming sophomore LP and b-side ‘Demise.’ The band have been kind enough to offer a full stream of the 38-minute album. Hit the jump for an embed, as well as some personal thoughts on the whole thing (spoiler alert: it’s very good).

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Phew, what a trip these two tracks are. I mentioned in my post last week that based on the teaser, these new tracks sound like they could be heavier than anything the band has done before (or at least since their first EP Tiny Fragments), and I was very much correct in my assessment. ‘Downbeat’ is a genuine stomper, its main theme a deliciously groovy and sludgy anthem that should render the listener incapable of not headbanging incessantly. More than any other release from the band, I was keenly aware of drummer Behn Stacy’s presence and muscular technicality holding the whole thing together and propelling it forward into the strata.

More than any other TToL release so far as well, noise and free improvisation play a critical part of the band’s sound here. The middle section of ‘Downbeat’ is a building cacophony of electronic glitches, guitar squawks, and drum fills until it resolves itself back into that glorious theme previously mentioned. The EP’s second half in ‘Demise’ takes the noise even further as it spends more than 3/4 of its 19-minute runtime slowly building up from amorphous noodling and slow-burning grooves into another highly effective thunderous theme that could compete with the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, possibly even heavier than ‘Downbeat.’

The only thing I found a bit wanting in these two tracks was the presence (or lack thereof) of keyboardist Ron Pollard, who has been the melodic and technical heart of the group since the beginning. His infusion of jazzy piano licks and chords is what has always really drawn me into them, from the manic hits of Tiny Fragments to the epically grand and proggy lines of ‘Landmarks’ off of Deaden the Fields and the frenetic grooves that served as the backbone of ‘Failed by Machine’ off of their previous EP Failed by Man and Machine. The focus on Downbeat is decidedly not with Pollard though, and with it a rather large turn away from the progressive jazz technicality the band is known for.

Given that this EP only features one track off of their upcoming LP, it would be foolish to extrapolate too much into how the new album as a whole will sound, but based off of this small sampling I’m incredibly excited, if not a bit trepidatious, to hear more come January. As a piece unto itself though, Downbeat is an excellent 38 minutes of experimental and heavy-as-fuck post-metal that should serve as an excellent entry point for fans of all sorts.



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