… dramatic and sometimes exhilarating stuff.
A fine record made by a fine and long standing band, and this release is maybe the favourite of all the things I’ve heard of theirs. It’s a record of remarkable breadth, they have a magnificent track called (and sounding like a) Monumental Mood Shift and this could be the key phrase for this LP.
Starting off with the pulverising and relentless Sky (the drumming sounds like an operating an industrial pressing machine) and followed up by a sloth rock of Sons of the Desert - a mix of gargantuan gestures and growling, post metal chord shapes with reflective passages that get almost pastoral – the record only really starts to get unhinged and loose with the marvellous Wolves in the Walls, which starts of like a true hell raiser, driven by a mix of and some throat shredding screams. Suddenly we’re off to Led Zep III territory and I’m expecting someone to get a lute out. Luckily we get a battery of metal laying waste to any hippy dippy stuff. It’s obvious, overblown and very much the sort of revenge soundtrack for a bedridden gaming addict. And despite being momentarily packed off to a more subdued landscape, we are sent scurrying yet again as the record builds to a climax. The pastoral side gets an airing almost immediately in the raggle-taggle gipsy stylings of Roman Horses which comes straight out of the English Pastoral tradition, though there is a metal buzz that invades before the end. We love it.
Elsewhere a monumental noise and beauty is captured (almost to perfection) by Monumental Mood Shift and quiet reflections are beautifully played out with Spectral Fires and Sky Net. Christmas 86 is some track too, beginning in the same tremulous manner as British Sea Power’s True Adventures and becoming a wistful, dreamy essay that just keeps on going. Following that (The Plains) Skeletal is a dry and increasingly powerful work out that hits a high point midway through with a tremendous wall of guitar. Sky Net brings everyone down to Earth again.
Phew… dramatic and sometimes exhilarating stuff.