A Man and His Nature by Ropes Inside a HoleRelease date: January 10, 2023
Label: Voice of the Unheard
Lockdown brought isolation. This isn’t news – enough has been written about the pandemic and its effects over the past few years to fill many libraries the world over. Let’s face it, we’re all fed up of hearing about it. Yet, Ropes Inside a Hole’s second album feels very much a product of the lockdown. Not withstanding the aching isolation that drips from every note of A Man and His Nature’s post-metal onslaught, simply logistically the album feels as if it could only be the result of the lockdown.
A Man and His Nature is a truly international affair. From a band who are already a collective made up of Swedish and Italian members, the follow up to 2019’s Autumnalia features members from as far afield as Argentina and Finland. It is truly a collaborative project – however the big change this time around is the addition of vocals, courtesy of Swedish post-rock group Suffocate for Fuck’s Sake’s Daniel Loefgren. The Swede adds a layer of dreamy etherealness, his emotionless, shoegaze-esque delivery is sparsely used but elevates proceedings to another level.
Which is good, because at times Ropes Inside a Hole seem to lack new ideas. Most of the songs here seem to follow a similar structure – the tried and true post-metal structure of a slow build up, before a heavy crescendo as the guitars and drums truly kick in, eventually leading to a cool down as the song fades out. This is fine – why fix what isn’t broken, after all? Yet it does lead to things starting to feel formulaic, and a few of the tracks here do end up overstaying their welcome.
‘Distance’ kicks thing off well enough, a brooding, wistful song that feels as if it is bobbing along on the water before the crashing waves burst in towards the end. As an opener and lead single it sets the band’s stall out well enough. ‘Others are Gone, I Don’t Care’ is a straightforward post metal instrumental – heavy, without breaking any barriers. ‘Loss and Grief’ meanwhile is slower, more emotive musically, however Loefgren’s otherworldly vocals seem a little too detached here and it leads to a track that feels muddy and directionless.
Thankfully, from there A Man and His Nature shifts into another gear. ‘Feet in the Swamp, Gaze to the Sky’ is an absolute highlight, William Suvanne’s warbling saxophone clashing well with Diego Ruggeri’s dirty bass lines to create a song that very much does seem to have its feet in the swamp. ‘Overwhelmed’ is another highlight, a stressful, jarring squawk of a track. ‘Time to Sleep’, meanwhile ends the album with a triumphant crescendo, the repeated refrain of “until you wake up” giving the track an eerie, dreamlike quality.
A Man and His Nature very much feels like a product of its time. It’s an album about isolation, soaked in isolation, recorded in isolation. As such, at times it lacks a bit of cohesion, at others it plays a little too safe, yet Ropes Inside a Hole are very much a name to watch out for in the world of post-metal, and A Man and His Nature is a fine way to pass the lonely winter nights.