Hello! It’s me, Eden! Can I just take a moment here at the top of the post to thank you all for reading Post Rock Post? I know I’ve said this before but where this column has gone and the things we’ve done with it never stop to take my breath away. When Nick and I started this column, we fully expected it to be only a labor of love and that not a lot of people would pay attention to it. But since then, it has grown to consistently be one of the more successful columns on the blog and for that, we are very, very grateful!
We’re mostly grateful because we truly think we’re living in a fantastic age for post-rock (naysayers be damned) but also because it allows us to do some cool stuff. Like sponsor Post Fest for the second time! That’s right! Now that conditions allow it again, the good folks over at Post. Records are hosting their festival in Indianapolis once more. While it seems unlikely I can attend, David will be there as well as many other friends of the blog. And boy, is the lineup good! You have bands like Boris (!!!), Junius and Nothing teaming up with scene stalwarts like coastlands, Glacier and Pianos Become the Teeth, alongside many other names, for what promises to be a fantastic evening of post goodness.
The festival will take place on September 9th and 10th and you can grab tickets for it right here and make sure you do; it’s a fantastic way to support our community. Take a peek at the sponsors down below; you’ll find labels, blogs and even pedal companies. This really is something the community comes together to do and its success bolsters us and also, most importantly, the artists themselves.
OK! On with the show. We have some fantastic music for you this time around, so let’s get right to it!
You, You’re Awesome (Top Picks)
Answer From Cygnus – Cygnus (post-black metal)
Every once in a while we sneak in a post-black metal release into this column and while the genre’s name does indeed include the word “post” in it, I often feel the need to justify that inclusion. In the case of Answer From Cygnus though, as with many of the inclusions from the sub-genre in this column, I feel like the justification is pretty simple: Answer From Cygnus incorporates a lot of post-rock elements into their sound. In fact, these inclusions are exactly what makes Cygnus stand out from the crowd so much.
Don’t get me wrong, the “pure” black metal side of things is also excellent. One only needs to listen to the first track, “L’instant”, to hear that for themselves. The break-neck blast-beats, the excellent and abrasive vocals, and the overall assault of black metal sound are perfectly executed. But while you’re there, pay attention to how the more delayed and dreamy guitars from the intro return throughout the track, adding their more expansive sound to the basic black metal formula. Further down the line, the main black metal riff of the track “inherits” some of that dreamy atmosphere, turning into the sort of almost shoegaze-y type of sound we’ve grown to expect from post-black metal.
It’s not much but it creates the contrast that first made me sit up in my chair and really listen to what Answer From Cygnus are going for here, since it augmented the already oppressive atmosphere of the track into something much more interesting and varied. These elements are further elaborated upon later down the album, like on the incredible “Allants aveugles”, which actually features a good use of a Carl Sagan voiceover (!) It adds cavernous silences to the mix, augmenting the fury of its black metal influences while providing even more space for the more ethereal, post-rock and shoegaze side of things to thrive, especially once “De poussière et de glace” kicks in with its incredible opening.
Put all of those things together and you get one hell of a release, an album that I feel is being slept on by fans of the sub-genre. Cygnus is a deeply effective release because it augments its post-black metal with more sounds from the genres from which it emerged, using them to further tweak and configure the resulting atmosphere of the album. It becomes a release that’s a joy to dig into, containing many different layers and levels to how it approaches you and how, in turn, you might approach it.
P.S make sure not to miss the surprising vocals on “Les échos endolorants”. They are amazing.
The Cast Before The Break – Where We Are Now (post-rock, emo)
What is it about these past several years that has brought so many inactive bands out of the woodwork with new material so good it borders on startling? We saw the first flashes of this trend back in 2015 when Failure returned with The Heart Is a Monster, but it really showed out with Hum’s Inlet in 2020, which stands as one of my two or three favorite releases of that year. Coincidentally, just hours before I began writing this I discovered that the massively influential ‘90s screamo legends Saetia have regrouped; not sure if new material is in the works or not, but regardless, if you had suggested this reunion 10 years ago you’d have been laughed out of the room. These Arms Are Snakes recently announced they’ll be touring on a (sort of) new release as well, which I find particularly exciting being a huge fan of theirs. Now it feels like anything is on the table, and considering the quality of work we’ve seen from these other long-dormant bands, it makes for a truly exciting moment in time.
Albany, New York’s The Cast Before The Break was one of the lower profile emo/post-rock fusion bands that began to surface in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. This sub-subgenre is best known through bands like The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Pianos Become The Teeth, Moving Mountains, Foxing, The Hotelier, and to a lesser degree Athletics, gates, and Deer Leap. But there’s a case to be made that The Cast Before The Break was every bit as good, and maybe even a bit more consistent than most of the aforementioned artists. Granted, they didn’t experiment with their style as much as most of those groups have, but there’s something to be said for knowing what you do and doing it well.
The Cast Before The Break is also tied to this style of music through their association with Deep Elm Records, the label that has potentially played the most integral role in fostering and developing the bond between post-rock and emo. It was certainly one of the first labels to explore bands that sought to expand punk, hardcore, and emo ideas into something more atmospheric. Since their inception in the mid-90’s they’ve worked with artists such as The Appleseed Cast, Athletics, and Planes Mistaken For Stars, as well as releasing Moving Mountain’s now-classic record Pneuma, which had initially been released independently. They also orchestrated the quintessential Emo Diaries compilation series, giving a platform to then-unsigned bands Jimmy Eat World, Further Seems Forever, The Movielife, Samiam, The Jazz June, and Sounds Like Violence (by the way, if you haven’t listened to their Deep Elm-released debut EP The Pistol before, please get your life together; it’s like if The Strokes had an ounce of edge, then turned that into approximately a metric shit-ton of edge). The Cast Before The Break released their fantastic 2011 record Still with Deep Elm, but then before they could finish work on a follow-up, the band appeared to disband.
That is, until last month, when they showed back up with Where We Are Now, the completed version of the record they had been writing way back in 2012. And somehow, despite the long layoff, Where We Are Now is potentially their best collection to date. It’s an especially intriguing record because it was mostly written by the time the band went on hiatus, it just never got recorded. So it serves as a portal to travel back to 2012 and get a feel for the sonic canvas at the time, as well as what artists were influencing others at the time. The tracks definitely have some Moving Mountains in them, but another big vibe I’m getting comes straight from Tertia/Waking Season-era Caspian. You won’t get two minutes into the album without hearing it, and I think it’s something that contributes greatly to the proceedings on the whole. It’s also interesting to think about what bands hadn’t yet emerged at the time that bear considerable similarities. The most obvious is The Hotelier, based largely upon similarities in the vocal deliveries of vocalists TJ Foster and Christian Holden, but you can hear a little of The Cast Before The Break in a lot of the aforementioned bands.
Another thing I really enjoy about Where We Are Now is how the space of years between the primary writing sessions and the actual recording allows the band to put their 30-something spin on songs born out of 20-something youthful exuberance. One such example is the choice to add saxophone to the bridge of “Shy Away.” As guitarist Jordan Stewart explains: “This is a true story: the idea for the saxophone on the bridge came while I was watching Space Jam with my daughter. Earlier that day, I had seen a video on Instagram of a musician friend of ours, Eric Sosler (The Racer, No Great Pretender, A Carousel Moon) playing sax, and for some reason the idea came to mind while watching Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes take on the fearsome Monstars. We struggled with what to fill the song out with in the end, because the bones of it were very solid – figuring out something a little different for us with the instrumentation ended up making a whole lot of sense.” (“Track By Track: The Cast Before The Break – Where We Are Now,” The Alternative, March 29th, 2022) You can’t make that kind of stuff up, and there’s no doubt that the separation and passing of years brings something intangible and integral to each of the album’s ten songs
One of the most powerful 2022 additions comes during the middle section of opening track “Friends of Mine.” It’s a spectacular song that, as expressed by Foster himself, really covers the entire spectrum of what the band has done over their career. It was also apparently supposed to be the album closer back in 2012, but was wisely moved to the front of the track order. Foster talks about how he had a lot of misplaced anger and frustration at the time these songs were originally written, which contributed to tensions and eventually the hiatus. He credits his wife Lauren as being the individual who helped him to open up, take accountability, and approach his issues honestly and openly. Lauren is also the person providing guest vocals on “Friends of Mine,” and as Foster says: “ [Lauren sings] ‘Pain is silent, so don’t write this down / Speak to me now…’ I’m notoriously bad at articulating my feelings unless it’s in song form. She’s been my guiding light in that respect; it only made sense to have her sing this part.” (“Track By Track: The Cast Before The Break – Where We Are Now,” The Alternative, March 29th, 2022) This is a brilliant addition to the song that definitely wouldn’t have factored in had it been recorded in 2012. So not only does the song explore the band’s full canvas, but it also elegantly ties together their past and their present.
It’s not all delicate hindsight that makes Where We Are Now work so well. The band obviously excels at big emotional swells, which can be seen at a high level during the climax of the title track, but there’s also a lot of straight-out rocking taking place as well. “Seaward” and “Minutemen” put forth plenty of punk and post-hardcore energy to balance the softer touches, and standout track “Lighthouse” benefits greatly from a riff that stands adjacent to one that has carved out a deep space in rock legend as channeled through Pete Townshend on “Teenage Wasteland,” and to a far lesser (but still not inconsiderable) degree as it’s interpreted by Kevin Cadogan on Third Eye Blind’s “Deep Inside Of You.” When all’s said and done, it’s an album loaded with memorable hooks, energetic riffs, lush atmospheric elements, and consistently impactful emotional peaks. It’s also one of the best records I’ve heard in 2022, no small feat for a band that’s been inactive for the past decade. We can only hope that more bands rediscover themselves and come back with material even half as good as what’s found on Where We Are Now.
– David Zeidler
Soonago – Fathom (progressive post-rock, post-metal)
Soonago are a German instrumental act channeling the divide between the distorted soundscapes of post-rock and the more hard-hitting fury of post-metal. Not unlike fellow country-men Long Distance Calling‘s early material, they do so with dramatic dynamics and a potent appetite for progressive riffage. The kind of post-rock that immediately grabs you and motivates you to be more. They’d fit nicely in a “productivity” playlist if you have something like that going. For a genre that’s often prone to a bit of meandering, there’s a keen sense of direction and purpose which helps portray that. While Fathom was my introduction to this band, they’ve been around since 2014 with their debut Nephele dropping back in 2017 that’s also worth checking out.
I mentioned their post-metal leanings, but Soonago also bends into a bleary blackgaze side throughout, punctuated by piercing tremolo riffs and blast beats that grow from melancholy to epic triumph. They excel at using those more sonically explosive outbursts as the culmination of their gradual repetition, like a video-game attack that you have to charge up before unleashing it. But it’s not all typical build-and-release style post-rock writing, they use certain phrasings as recurring motifs that give each song more of its own identity. Take the melody driven “Besa” with its stirring guest cello performance, or the more black metal inspired album closer “Fathom”. They each have their own unique flavours and bring something a little different to this release, that eclecticism makes things rarely feel repetitive or overstaying their welcome, while maintaining a cohesive flow..
And can we talk about the production for a second? Soonago made the right choice of placing those duties with Cult of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg. Those guitar tones are perfectly crisp or roomy with reverb as needed, and the bass is audibly thumping, especially in the Pelican-like rhythmic chugs in album opener “Evac”. For a shifting, dynamic release that needs to satisfy shoegazing melancholy and progressive tapping riffs, the engineering here is tremendous. A massive album with a massive sound, Soonago brought us one of March’s best. Fathom is available in physical form through our friends at A Thousand Arms.
Enjoy Eternal Bliss (Best of the Rest)
Oh Hiroshima – Myriad (post-rock, art-rock)
Over the past decade or so, and mainly after their landmark release In Silence We Yearn, Oh Hiroshima have become a household name for fans of sweeping yet punchy post-rock. Over that time, the band have continued to evolve, slowly amping up the electronic and art-rock elements that were always nascent in their sound. Myriad is the culmination of this process, noisier and more augmented by these sounds and influences. The result is perhaps their best release yet, a more direct and straight-forward version of their sound but one which is, nonetheless, no less satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, the dreamy parts are still there but they have been revamped and repurposed to make Oh Hiroshima’s sound even more effective. If you’ve wanted Oh Hiroshima to focus on their sweeping choruses and trim the build-ups towards them, then Myriad is what you’ve been waiting for.