A few years ago, long time Heavy Blog friend/staff member, Geoff Smith, turned me on to Secrets of the Sky. I immediately fell in love with their super dark version of post metal, spliced with plenty of doom and other stuff I am generally known to enjoy. I got to listen to their sophomore album, Pathway, and review it for the blog, further deepening my connection with them. Thus, when I had heard that Clayton Bartholomew (who’s also ex-Lycus by the way) had left the band, I was crushed and very fearful of the future for that niche brand of sound that I had gotten used to. Luckily, my fears were short lived as Bartholomew began gathering musicians around him again in the form of Mountaineer. The project promised to scratch all those places that I needed scratch with Secrets of the Sky’s demise. Finally, only a few weeks ago, their first album dropped and lo and behold, the promise has been kept.
Sirens & Slumber is an interesting take on the sounds that Bartholomew has been circling around in his career. It certainly has that huge, doom metal sound but this time, it’s spliced with more post rock than post metal. This results in interesting track couplets, as dream-y, tremolo picked post rock passages die and give birth to larger, doom tinged riffs. Check out “Fog and Distant Light” for example; it is all post rock crescendo and glory, delayed guitars and vast drums crashing back and forth before giving way to a somber outro. It wouldn’t have been out of place on a set and setting closing track or even the heavier Explosions in the Sky albums. However, the follow up to that is “Adrift”, a slow moving, ocher veined monster housing growls, a cumbersome riff that carries the main momentum and an overall vibe more akin to Lycus than any post rock band around.
The result is an album which does something that Secrets of the Sky were also great at. Sirens & Slumber hits on both the melancholic and the heavy front, a fact perhaps hinted at by its name. It’s a worthy addition to Bartholomew’s roster and definitely carries his mark on it. However, it is also a project which stands on its own merit, exploring parts of the post rock/doom fringe that work deceivingly well together. It has the power to cause both introspection and sympathetic, emotional movement, and is thus an interesting and rewarding repeat experience. Go check it out, won’t you?