I would think that, by this point, if I told you an album is complex, you’d believe me. Let me tell you, She Said Destroy‘s Succession is complex and then some. Although we premiered the first track from it, “To Ourselves the World Entire”, and that track is complex enough, I don’t think it really captures the full breadth of the places this album goes. It’s one of those releases that refuses to stay put in one place but, through excellent musicianship and compositional skills, manages to somehow stay cohesive. And with this release that’s especially impressive, seeing as how it circles as wide a list of genres as post-rock, black metal, progressive metal, post metal, post-punk, and even a hint of grindcore (but really just a hint). All of these things come together to create a dynamic, engaging album but one that’s also very demanding, requiring that the listener learns to parse its “language”. But should you do so, you’d be rewarded with hours of great music and interesting ideas.
Perhaps starting from that first track that we already premiered, we can learn a lot about Succession from “To Ourselves the World Entire”. I have already regaled you with the track’s advantages when we premiered it but I’d like to draw your attention again to how the heavy and the dreamy or melancholic blend on the track. The vocals and the main riff are your source of heaviness, establishing a sizeable heft to the album’s opening minutes. But, in the tones of the guitar leads (which become and more mournful until they could be described as downright haunting), in the quieter passages and the time afforded to them, and in the overall track’s structure (patient and often calm, when it is not direct and quite aggressive) there’s much of post-rock on it. Placing “To Ourselves the World Entire” at the beginning of the album is an excellent choice; it is a very interesting and varied track and one which belies many of the album’s sounds that follow.
But one thing the opening track doesn’t have is the almost punk aggression (and, perhaps, through it those grindcore tinges we mentioned above) of some of the music on Succession. Flip over to tracks like “You Will End” or “Greed Witches” and you’ll suddenly be hit by its fury, blast-beats, screams, and all. The first one is especially heavy, courting even heavier sounds with its breakneck, single purposed drums, higher screams, and non-stop riffs. Naturally, even a track as heavy as this has She Said Destroy’s post metal influences, in the form of the darker guitar leads which punctuate many of the riffs on the track. But it’s an overall high-octane track and “Greed Witches”, which follows it, doesn’t really let up; it’s a bit slower but the groove is real, digging even further into the punk underpinnings of the band’s sound.
Going once or twice to that heavy place wouldn’t make the album that complex though. What really clinches the level of complexity is how many times She Said Destroy bounce between these two sounds on the release and how well each part is executed. “Sharpening the Blade” for example goes full post-black, with its hauntingly sweet tremolo picked main riff. “Collapse” is all sludgy magnificence with its hefty chords and reverb laden leads. And the closing track brings back the aggression but overlays an almost dungeon-synth sort of electronic sound over anything, like a massive, technological blanket of sound.
And throughout it all, somehow, She Said Destroy shine through; each track is decidedly their own, in whatever style they might find themselves using for it. The end result is an extremely complex, varied, and challenging which, like I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, will reward the dedicated listener with all sorts of interesting ideas about progressive music, experimentation, heaviness and melancholy. Gave it a chance to wash you over the first few times you listen to and then try to find orientation points along its tracks. Finally, a picture might start to appear: a map for navigating Succession. Once you have that, the beautiful vistas of one of this year’s most intriguing and well made albums will start to unfold before you. See you there.