Intimacy is a word which gets used a lot to describe music, especially of the more melancholy sort. This makes sense when you consider that music is one of the most personal art forms, usually consumed between a listener and the artist in relative solitude (even live shows contain a certain amount of solitude). Many bands try to tap into this mood, attempting to cross the ether and speak to the listener directly. Less bands actually pull it off and even a smaller number do so within heavy music circles, balancing the grandiosity of metal and its sister genres with a direct, human, and particular approach. Latitudes have always been masters of this craft, making post metal that was both massive and moving, colossal and yet, oddly personal and vulnerable.
With Part Island, the intimate parts which once existed as contrast (striking off against heavier parts with their haunting melodies) are now the focus of the album. This is mostly due to the fact that vocals, and clean vocals to boot, play a central role on this, their fifth release. Whereas clean vocals were featured in the past as respites or backdrops for heavier moments, like on the soul-shattering “Quandary” which closed off their previous album or the ethereal moments on “Body Within a Body” from the same release, here they are the moving force beyond much of the music. From the first track to the last, they weave in and out of the music, light or heavy, and leave their indelible mark on the listener.
The last, eponymous track is perhaps the best example of how they are utilized. For the majority just-over-ten-minutes run time of the track, the clean vocals trade off with the heavier instrumentation; they mostly grace lighter moments, guitars quietly strummed in the background, and then bow out to leave room for the heavier chords and groove section to do their thing. But this is only preparation for the outro; in these emotional, massive, churning, final moments of not only the track but of the entire album, the massive chords, emotional guitar leads and clean vocals blend together. Because there are other moments like this on the album, where clean vocals clash directly with post metal instrumentation, this final crescendo doesn’t stand alone. Instead, it calls back to all those past moments on the album and gathers them for a final release.
This is where the intimacy comes from on Part Island, this idea that lighter, more emotional parts don’t need to give way before noisier segments but should rather utilize this kind of conversation to create a richer experience. Whereas previous albums were complex enough, the different segments they were made out of, the chiaroscuro of massive riff and fragile singing, gave you a map through which to analyze them. Part Island is a more complex and nuanced beast altogether, requiring the listener to dive into its weft and weft. The threads this tapestry is made up of will be familiar to the listener: resounding chords, looming drums, and an overall post metal sensibility. But the way the final work is woven together, how small this album can be even when it goes hard, makes it the band’s most special and powerful album to date.
Part Island releases on April 5th. You can head on over to the link above to pre-order it.