Cycles by AppalachesRelease date: March 25, 2017
Cycles is a slightly darker and heavier EP compared to the band’s debut album, Mòn, but not so far removed that you don’t know you are listening to the genius that is Appalaches. Cycles continues the tradition Mòn began, with its full throttle expressiveness, if not more so. This 100% independent band wanted to achieve a live feeling to their recording, and they did just that. This album sounds very orchestral and full. For this album, they worked with Thierry Amar, bass player for Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who recorded and mixed the album.
Cycles begins with ‘Oja’. A slow and steady build that gradually leads you straight into a wonderful, orchestral and epic wall of sound. Just when you think you couldn’t soar any higher, it reaches outer worldly proportions at the 3:32 mark. The layers here are masterful, heavy and expressive.
‘Bress’ has tricks up it’s sleeve. It starts with a nice guitar riff. However, don’t be fooled by its niceness. It is quickly interrupted by crashing drums, boomy bass and heavy guitars. This happens twice before the track sets on another course. This track has many layers and surprising changes. The guitar and bass work here is grand and the drum work, perfect, all reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky. There’s a wonderful bridge to the epic finale of the track.
Ambient guitars start ‘Mstqzotq’. A steady drum beat soon follows. Keys are introduced here,for the first time on this EP, with a beautiful soft melody, reminiscent of Mogwai. A beautiful, gradual start. It picks up little by little. There’s a wonderful change at the 7:26ish mark. This track is orchestral, heavy, violent and bright.
‘Milsai’, starts as an introspective and patient track. It’s not until the 3:52 mark that the drums come in, with a steady hard beat. Cymbal crashes, like waves against the shore and then everyone comes in. There’s a moment in the track where I felt a feeling of euphoria take over, right around the 6:58 mark, it lasts about 33 seconds. It’s a bright shift in the track, punchy and expressive that leads to another epic ending.
‘Iresdepia’ is the second track to include keys. It opens with a wonderful melancholic piano riff. Guitars gradually come in with that signature tremolo guitar sound, creating that wonderful tension. Slowly, a steady drum beat begins. Everything gets a little louder as the piece advances. Heavy, growling bass adds to the intensity. This track is very reminiscent of MONO, grand, orchestral and expressive. At one moment, almost everything stops and the piano comes back. Guitars return, slowly ascending, accompanied by cymbal washes. The piano stops and all you hear is this wall of sound on its slow descent. A great ending to a perfect album.
The band decided to release this EP as a digital download, considering it a better environmental choice versus the CD. Their goal is to release in vinyl format via a crowdfunding effort or wait for a label before doing so. In all, this album is a masterpiece. It truly showcases the band’s mastery of their instruments and the art of writing music. They are geniuses in their craft and bright lights in this genre.