Friday, April 26, 2013

The Old Wind - Feast On Your Gone (2013)

The latest signing to German label Pelagic Records, The Old Wind aren't exactly the most well known band coming out of Sweden today. But this five piece from the north, which features in its ranks members of the international collective known as The Ocean, are certainly prepared to make waves wherever their sound can be heard. A terrifying blend of modern post metal and thunderous sludge standards, you won't receive any coddling or warm, fuzzy interludes. In fact, with the distortion levels pushed to the limits of modern metal production, and a mix that is full to bursting with massive percussion and guitars, you might leave the experience slightly battered. On the six tracks that makes up the new album "Feast On Your Gone," this Swedish metal juggernaut give you every reason to listen, and every reason to be afraid; very afraid.

Very little could be as haunting or terrifying as the whisper of a child, exactly the effect felt in the first seconds of "In Field." With each crushing blow raining down on you, the band bruise after bruise. The combination of those maddening riffs, and an piercing screaming vocal, it would not be out of your reach to file a complaint for sonic assault. There is an interesting cohesion to the mix, with each piece striking a solid balance, though they often seem out of touch with one another. This is about ferocity rather than subtlety, and the band executes it to a "t". With all that said, it is a much different atmosphere in "I'm Dead," which brings out a dose of melody that seemed conspicuously absent before. Don't expect a shift in the vocal part of the equation, because you will be sorely disappointed. But underneath that coarse cry is a wealth of instrumental prowess, now finding a perfect middle ground for solid kicks and distortion. The result is a smoother execution, including a more downtempo breakdown section, one that introduces a much more atmospheric tone. Despite being only eleven seconds shorter than the previous track, this one flies by, coming to an end all too quickly. There is a separation on "Raveneye," one that takes a blooming whole, and returns it to vocal and instrumental. The former, which by now appears to be a static delivery, may be the leader of the pack, but it is the latter that drives this beast forward. With blistering blast beats and a host of ever expanding riffs, the backing band provides every bit of power the track needs to bring you to your knees.

The track which bears the name of the band, "The Old Wind," is the mammoth track on the album, clocking in at over seven minutes. but is also the most diverse and thought through one. You would hard pressed to find a more masterfully produced and delivered instrumental than the one found here, firing off kick after kick into your ears, and allowing the entire background to be covered in the metallic sizzle of cymbals. It is worth noting that the mix here is fine tuned to the point of near flawlessness, even though it doesn't equal a balanced approach. The low end outnumbers the mid and high, allowing the bass work to come through nicely. With that tone being set, "Spears Of A Thousand" keeps the ball rolling. It is odd that there is such a defined melody without a singular melodic element at work. The pace has slowed, and the guitars have slid back into a dense chugging delivery, with the lead guitar playing a simple, clean part. Maybe it is this stripped down approach that makes the track some easy to listen to, and wholly memorable. The vocals, in particular, are plowing ahead at full force, something that seemed to be lacking earlier. It isn't that they've changed; they remain the same monotone scream as before, but with a extra level. The closing track, "Reign," takes the sum of the instrumentals, and amplifies it to the tenth power. With much less voice to lay over the top, it is all about each single strum of the strings, every individual swing of the drum sticks. And the resulting track is one that might be enough to put this album over the top.

There is an interesting dynamic at play on this album, one that is hard to explain and even harder to replicate. The Old Wind have taken every opportunity to bring the proverbial hammer down on your head, and yet they never quite finish the job. Instead, they string you along, injecting just enough sensible undertone to keep you listening without fear of being bloodied. There isn't necessarily any sort of focus on being subtle, but it plays out that way time and again. Whether it is a small guitar part, or the way the bass carries through a track, there is a lot more going on than may first meet the ear. If you are looking for sweeping epics and massive melodic passages, you are way out of your comfort zone here. But if you can prepare yourself for a wave of multidimensional destruction and pain, you may have stumbled into something unknowingly awesome. As The Old Wind blows in from the north of Sweden, there is only devastation left in their path.


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