Tag Archives: Post-rock

Deafheaven – Sunbather (2013)

Deafheaven - Sunbather (2013)

If every band is an island, and every album a town on that island, then Sunbather is a small desolate place with eternal dawn, somewhere near the bay of post-rock with a causeway to the black metal peninsula at high tide.

San Fransisco’s Deafheaven are one of those bands who manage to do something different. Here, on Sunbather, they have managed to perfectly meld the guitar-textured approach of post-rock and post-metal with the bleakness and heaviness of black metal. One of the stand out tracks on the album, Vertigo, starts with jangly post rock, complex drum rhythms, occasional hints at blast beats, building up a head of steam to a crescendo, just about getting started at the 4 minute mark, when most pop tracks are over and done with; there is no rushing this storm. Heavy is the hit of the wave and this is pure black metal territory, screamed vocals and fast guitars creating a wall of sound that envelops with terrifying intensity.

The fact that they, in company such as Wolves In The Throne Room and Alcest, had the vision to see that post rock and black metal did share similarities, despite them being in disparate musical circles, is testament to their vision.

I’m not the biggest fan of black metal, it’s true, I do like to listen to Marduk, Mayhem, Emperor, Carpathian Forest, Gorgoroth and the like, but I don’t go out and listen to every black metal band out there; however, this album is very appealing. It might be a somewhat “gateway” album to those who haven’t listened to black metal before, but I also fear that there might be a problem of audience here. Fans of black metal won’t necessarily appreciate the shoe-gaze nature of a lot of the album, and fans of post-rock might not bear the black metal sections, leaving a pretty niche audience.

Overall, it is a good album, both post rock and black metal are equally represented and neither is a cheap nod to the genre, this is authentic, intense, bleak and beautiful. A worthwhile listen.

Now what to call this genre? I’ve read “blackgaze”, which I quite like, but I think I prefer “blackened post-metal”.

Favourite tracks: Vertigo, Sunbather, Irresistible
Spotify link: Deafheaven – Sunbather

Sneak peak: 


Mogwai – Les Revenants (2013)

Mogwai - Les Revenenants (2013)

I don’t know if you have been watching/have watched the excellent French dark supernatural drama, Les Revenants (The Returned). Here in the UK, we are five episodes in, with only three to go.

Les Revenants is a brilliant TV programme about the human stories surrounding the return from the dead of various members of a small community in the French mountains, overlooked by a dam. The programme shows the changes in relationships that death had brought and the effect resurection has on them, as we learn more about the circumstances surrounding the deaths, having revelation of the characters and second guessing motives and even who is dead or alive, all-the-while being immersed in mystery after mystery as new information is slowly dripped to us. The whole programme is the rightful heir to Twin Peaks’s crown.

It is quite a bold move on the part of Channel 4, here in the UK, to show a French programme with subtitles, but I am so glad they did.

One of the things that makes the programme so special is the atmosphere; it is so enveloping, at times dark and dense, and part of that is the music.

Mogwai were commissioned to record the soundtrack before the first shots were even made, and it is said that the director, Fabrice Gobert, played the soundtrack during filming to get the atmosphere right. If that is true, then Mogwai have had a hand in creating the atmosphere rather than just ameliorating it.

This album is great, just great. On its own, it is a great work, dark, brooding, thoughtful and evocative; it can hold its own in a context outwith the programme.

Mogwai are a well-known Scottish post-rock band, formed in 1997, who, to my mind, have released some great albums in the form of Mogwai Young Team (1997) and Come On Die Young (1999), before they dropped off my radar. Five albums and two soundtracks (including Clint Mansell’s fantastic score to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain), and Mogwai are still going strong.

The final track here, Wizard Motor, is a deep heavy fuzzy number, as claustrophobic as a casket, but wonderfully crafted. Most of the rest of the tracks aren’t as heavy, but are just as dark and oppressive. Whisky Time starts with a foreboding little melody, ever so evocative in the show as it precludes the coach crash in episode one, which is the first of many shocking moments. The track over the opening credits is the first track on the album, a sort of sinister nursery melody accompanied by a minimalist cello and piano combo: ominous, very ominous, but very beautiful!

All the pieces are instrumental apart from a rather curious but unsettling cover of Washington Phillips’ What Are They Doing In Heaven Today. As it stands, this track kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, and changes the atmosphere of the album. On its own, it isn’t a bad track, it is just so different to the rest of the album.

Overall a great TV programme and a great album to match; both are highly recommended.

Favourite tracks: Wizard Motor, Kill Jester, Fridge Magic

Spotify link: Mogwai – Les Revenants Soundtrack
Sneak peak: http://youtu.be/WJ7EV-HVTC0

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (2012)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (2012)

Canadian Godspeed You! Black Emperor are one of those bands who just won’t do things the way you’re “supposed” to do things.  Among the rest of the merchandise at a gig in Boston in October 2012 was this album. No promotion, nothing even highlighting it; yet this was their first release in 10 years, since 2002’s Yanqui U.X.O. Honestly, I can only imagine GY!BE doing that.

The thing with post-rockers GY!BE is that while you don’t know exactly what you are going to get, you do know what you are going to get, if you know what I mean. And what you get here is exactly what you want. The album consists of four tracks, two 20-minute post-rock epics and two shorter, but more drone inspired tracks.

There is something about GY!BE is that they have the ability to knock you off your feet with their music whilst incorporating gentler and subtler musical elements without them getting completely lost and this album is no exception.

A great album, right up my street.

Spotify link: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Sneak peak: