Monday, October 8, 2012

Syberia – Drawing a Future (2012)

Some say that the name for the coldest part of Russia, Siberia, is derived from a Turkish word that means "asleep land." Contrary to that definiation, Spain's Syberia are wide awake. This five piece from Barcelona have adopted post metal as their style, and have taken it to places far and wide. With influences ranging from Isis to Caspian, and even the likes of Russian Circles and Mastodon, it would be a tall order to replicate or even dream of their success. But on their debut full length, "Drawing A Future," not only to they meet the expectations they have created for themselves, but they exceed anything you could hope for.

In the early moments of "Renaissance," the band walk the fine line between simple post rock, and the more richly constructed post metal sound that has been increasingly popular. But as the first wave of distortion hits, their intentions are clear. Layer upon layer of sound crashes through your speakers, with the weight of every kick and snare hit shaking the sub woofers. The bass line mirrors that of the guitars, rumbling ahead in a low end harmony. In the absence of vocals, this is all they have to deliver a message, something that comes through loud and clear in verse and chorus sections. They create a rush of excitement with every tempo shift, with each change eclipsing the last. But when they bring things to a slow, atmospheric trickle, you won't be the least bit surprised. Living up to its name, "Stampede" comes out of the gate with all hands on deck. There is a real sense of craftsmanship in the not only the riffs themselves, but in the way they are constructed and pieced together, something that becomes increasingly enjoyable here. Each piece seems simple on it's own, but as they are shifted and layered onto one another, guitars, bass, drums, and the line synthesizers complement one another to amazing success.

The way the cymbals ring out on "Colossus Collapse," you are at the edge of your seat waiting for a burst of sound. It comes quickly, in the form of distorted guitar riffs, then fades away again. Much like the art rock style of dredg, they use contrast time and again to increase the impact of each segment. A blaring guitar takes over as the front man of the band, guiding you through the track with a high octane melody. But the real gem of this track comes just before the end when the rumbling starts to boil over, shaking everything in ear shot. The eight minute epic known as "Tidal Waves" is as massive in sound as it is in length. Furthering their use of soft and heavy pieces running one after another, the band create a delicate balance in the process. Just when you think the track can't hold any more, everything cuts away, and a light, purposefully strummed clean guitar begins everything anew. The last minute of the track is a treat to witness, right down to the last note.

And while "Skissa" may be short and much more wide open than the others, it is equally important, as it leads directly into the title track, "Drawing A Future." Within a few moments, you are thrown back into the fire, with pulsing, pounding, simply abusive drum beats flying from all directions. But rather than an all out beat down, Syberia instead chooses subtlety over staying the course. They allow things to happen organically, where nothing seems forced and out of place. The pure bass of the ending moments is freedom in sonic form. And while the title may be ominous, "The Day After The End Of the World" is anything but. Sporting some of the most creative and complete guitar work on the album, this track may fast become your favorite along the way. With each passing second, the melodies get tighter and more intoxicating. And despite the guitar work being the focal point for a good deal of the track, the drum patterns are a star here, with pin point placement in a sea of sound and fury.

Unlike the American movie that shares the title, "Red Dawn" is a peaceful piece. Lightly played clean guitars get tangled in one another, as a third adds a layer of light distortion behind it all. The tone is one of triumph, lending itself so well to becoming an instant summer classic. It all builds to a high point, then fades into a nicely timed outro. The second interlude track, "Framtíð" is a little more complete than the first, choosing to use this one is a short atmospheric burst. As one guitar picks away, another lays out building and fading single notes, eventually joined by a little patter of drums. It is from here that the foundation of "Ara" is born, one that is realized so quickly, yet so successfully. Without detracting from the other songs on the album, this one seems to achieve the best balance between light and dark, airy and heavy. Rather than bringing it all full circle, the track is left with an open end, a fading guitar chord.

It is hard to imagine a band producing a more inspiring set of post metal songs, this year or beyond. What Syberia has done is not only marry the surging with the sublime, but do it in a way that makes it easy to listen to, and easy to enjoy. All of the pieces fit, like a puzzle, making sure that no stray, crooked chunks find their way into a strikingly clean mix. What stands out even more is that air of victory that is the common thread from one track to the next. It would stand up well to a sunny summer day, or a long car ride with the windows down. All the while, "Drawing A Future" creates an imagery that is far brighter than you may believe.


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