*Released via Bloated Veins
A marriage of restraint and despair
As metal, as a genre broadens its horizons with the word experimentation thrown about rather too freely, a small portion of it chooses ‘restraint’ as their path ahead. In a way this rids the genre of one of its more primal elements, the deep rooted proclivity to aggression. Yes doom, sludge and stoner does come under this rather broad yet small terminology and yet they show more in common with the metal aesthetic than this relatively newer offspring. The art of restraint and the beauty that lies within, is best emulated in the genre that is post-metal. Heralded by Neurosis in the late 90s the genre has now gained household status. Together with Isis, they seem to have garnered worldwide attention with their brand of musical restraint which has been rather inanely dubbed ‘thinking man’s metal’. What with their cryptic yet thought provoking lyricism, it really does not seem far off. Unfortunately like anything new what follows is a wave after wave of insipid stereotypes paying homage at the same altar. But like the preacher and the preached, the bands and their influences, markedly differ in execution. Mediocrity sets in and holds ground.
We recommend that you listen to the album while reading the review.
Now we come to one such prospective humdrum all set to make your time uneventful yet again. Fortunately it is not to be. The Danes in Redwood Hill instill their brand of post metal with the harrowing tendencies of black metal. The blackened element seems to be more in line with the likes of Burzum, Xasthur, early Forgotten Tomb than compared to the likes of the acidic ferocity of say, Mayhem and Gorgoroth. Opener Aten and Dybukk are more straightforward post-metal, the latter being the more hard hitting, featuring a short clean vocal section where guitarist Toby utters in hushed innuendos :
“Like rocks into rivers,
Like trails in the dust”
One tends to feel a sense of strong conviction behind these verses, unlike their contemporaries. The blackened side of the band makes its presence felt on the track Tristesse where a foreboding clean guitar line sets the stage for the heart rending blackened assault that is to follow. The discernible change in the vocal style into the more raspy and abrasive one serves to be a perfect illustration of the fact. When Tristesse is about to completely overwhelm the listener with its suicidal connotations you are ushered in with the melodious intro of Poseidon which seems to have slipped its way into my ‘my personal favorite’ category with much ease. A tormenting melody permeates throughout the entire track all the while serving as a build up to the epic climax which features one of the catchiest lead lines heard in a bloody long while. A closer analysis of this part will make it clear that the drumming does not remain subdued as is staple throughout the genre. Andreas plays with a certain clinical restraint, adding in fills and rolls where it only matters and striking a perfect balance overall. The guitars and bass, in Toby, Brian and Jens populate the bleak setting with even bleaker elements, all the while never failing to eke out an emotive melody or two. Croatoan’s sludgy rhythm, closer September’s contrast of moderately uplifting(by strictly depressive standards) and arching dissonance further exemplifies the fact that how good an album this is.
Innately depressive, both post- metal and black metal combine to deliver a thoroughly potent concoction in Descender. An interesting portrayal of everything forlorn that you must not miss.
Actually, Toby is the one doing the clean segment 🙂
Thanks for pointing out that man! duly corrected