So far, I am happy to report that 2012 has been a good year for music. We are barely in the 2nd month, but so far, I have been able to get my hands and ears on a bunch of exciting, diverse and plain old kick ass music. Continuing on a theme in my last review (The Twilight Sad’s latest), I am completely and totally jazzed to be reviewing another Scottish band, What the Blood Revealed, and their full-length album, ‘Harbour of Devils’. The potential of What the Blood Revealed (or WTBR in the interest of lazy typing) is immediately apparent, and in their genre, instrumental post-metal (is that even a thing?), they are poised to turn a lot of heads.
Mark my words, WTBR have what it takes.
On first listen, I drew the obvious comparison between WTBR and Red Sparowes, another instrumental (heavy emphasis on the MENTAL!) band that I am utterly smitten with.
WTBR, on first blush, bears a passing similarity to Red Sparowes, as well as ISIS (another of my favs!), so you know I was all smiles and loving this full-length WTBR record. As I listened more, when I got deeper into the tracks and listened more closely, their influences start to include other post-rock heavy-hitters, like the venerable Mogwai, and to my ear even some of the Prog-metal elements of Mastodon. Genres and influences aside, ‘Harbour of Devils’ is just good music.
WTBR’s songs are, on average, over 6 minutes, and feature fairly standard (albeit complex) structures, but at the same time, there is no shortage of chunky-style guitar riffs, as well as no lack of texture and ‘depth’ to the songs. The drums, to my untrained ear, seem to have, at times, the same kind of virtuosic, free-form Jazz elements you get from fellows like Danny Carey (TOOL). In fact, all the musicians are ‘that good’, knowing when to riff out and get things going, but also when to go lighter, leaving out heavy-handedness and show-offy tricks. The dual guitars and nimble-fingered bassist make for great atmosphere, as well as producing a massive sound at just the right moments, with just enough distortion and rawness.
I didn’t mention before, but the song titles themselves tend to be really long and descriptive, like ‘The Corporation As We Know It Is Dead, Dead, Dead’. To quote their Facebook Info page: ‘ We find our inspiration in science, and the truths it reveals.’ (Anyone ‘round here ever heard of Bad Religion?) This suits me fine; I do love a good concept album with dragons and sorcerers, but addressing the human condition or politics in music works for me as well. Each listener must discern what the actual message is for him or herself!
Rather than going track by track, as I often do, I’ll instead focus on one of the most important elements, in my mind anyway, about post-metal/harder instrumental music and bands, and that is the element that I call flow. You see, as many of you likely are or will be, I am a desk-bound knowledge worker, meaning I don’t actually produce anything, but really just make sure computer stuff works and stays working. In the course of my day, I will spend, oftentimes, hours not speaking to anyone, concentrating on some issue or other, all while listening to music. My point? WTBR’s music flows, gets me in a groove and never, ever annoys me. So far, I have listened to ‘Harbour of Devils’ over 20 times front-to-back (thanks iTunes!) and have not once turned it off or skipped tracks. Each song on the record is unique enough and interesting, yet all blend together well enough, like a great symphony, to be almost seamlessly listenable. This kind of flow is not easy to accomplish, and for the listener (me) is often not easy to find short of custom playlists.
To recap, if you are even a casual fan of ISIS, Red Sparowes, Neurosis, and Mogwai (I could go on and on!), then I can’t recommend What the Blood Revealed enough for you and your ears. Thank goodness for Glasgow and whatever is in the water there that’s producing all these great bands! Or maybe it’s the IRN-BRU?
Released March 12 2012 on Field Records
Posted by Jake Gillen