Post metal is a dangerous genre to go gallivanting in. It’s tropes have become worn out over the past few years, with bands mostly echoing seminal names of the past. As such, even releases by promising bands can turn out to be stale or simply nothing to get too agitated about. Thus far, Callisto have never been a band to long rest on the shoulders of their predecessors: from the onset of their careers, they have shifted, modified and grown their style, slowly adding layers of melody, silence and sometimes brutality, to their rich texture. With Secret Youth the band seems to have sought a consolidating act, a gathering of forces, and by Thor, that’s exactly what they got.
Secret Youth draws on the strengths of all stages of the band’s career to find its energies, subtly tempering the heavier parts of their catalog with the more morose sounds found on Providence. The main tool utilized to achieve this goal is the album structure. Its crafted so that harsher, more aggressive tracks are well balanced by the drawn out and haunting melodies Callisto are known for. This is most evident at the album’s beginning where the first quarter sets the tone perfectly.
Opening with the frantic ‘Pale Pretender’, the aggression builds up to the end of the single ‘Backbone’, where the perfect growls are first introduced. Instead of continuing down this spiral of abrasiveness, the guitars are reined in in favor of the rhythm section with ‘Ashes’, a track who’s clean, drawling vocals would fit well on Noir. Near the end of this track, passages abound which call to mind the band’s quietest album, Providence. Finally, the sound is drawn even lower with ‘The Dead Layer’, a bleak and ambient close to the album’s beginning.
From there and until the work closes, the band flutter between the established power play encapsulated within the quartet. While ‘Breasts of Mothers’ and ‘Grey Light’ are once again heavier and more guitar-oriented, ‘Ghost Written’ brings the bass back to the forefront, containing a growled ending that sets perfect counterpoint for the somber guitar that preceded it, playing reverie with Opeth‘s Damnation . The bass parts on this album bear delay as they are some of the finest in Callisto’s career. Already an important part of the originality and power of this band within the post metal genre, the bass here is uplifted to excellency via a combination of excellent, profound production and intensely vivid composition.
However, we are not yet done. ‘Old Souls’ is one of the most abrasive tracks Callisto have recorded, containing nothing more than guitar, ambient electronics and screamed growls. It finally gives way to the amazing closer that is ‘Dam’s Lair Road’. This track actually sums up what should be said about this album as a whole: if you want to tell a newcomer who Callisto are, what they are about musically and thematically, simply play them this track. To hell with it, play them the whole album and watch as one of the best acts in post metal today perfectly utter who they are.
Callisto’s Secret Youth gets…