New Distances

Written by: AP on 05/08/2009 20:32:06

Despite it being released some time ago now, Narrows' sophomore album "New Distances" seemingly carried all the characteristics necessary to intrigue me. Narrows descends from the alumni of a number of little-known but no less influential bands, most notably Botch and These Arms Are Snakes and notes Coalesce, among others, as an important influence. Say no more said this foolhardy scribe and stuck it on his review list. Unbeknownst to him the album would linger there for a while before opening itself up in what can only be described as an anticlimax.

Dave Verellen (of Botch fame) has seen to it that much of this new group's sound owes to his past outfit, what with the severe underproduction used here to craft a raw, bestial air of aggression. Add to that your usual ambiance and riffs that progress ever so slightly amid bursts of dissonance, not forgetting the atmospheric post-metal interludes that intersperse them either, and we have the required ingredients for do-it-yourself progressive hardcore. Trouble is, as much this sort of thing speaks to me, Narrows have no identity of their own and sound instead like a denim jacket onto which a number of disjoint influences have hastily been patched.

Essentially Narrows sound like a less oppressive, yet more primal and unrestrained little brother of Verellen's previous band, relying more on abrasive punk riffs and animal instinct than on crushing instrumental weight. Sure, the album is very intense when it wants to be, but it is impossible not to notice this distinct lack of force in almost every song. The slow progressions give leverage to a foreboding atmosphere, but in order to be truly effective, that atmosphere would need not only to develop, but also to explode into a chaotic mess. Alas, the quiet/loud dynamics have been grossly overused, creating passages which admittedly give the listener some breathing room, but which come with an unfortunate side effect: the album becomes fragmented.

Once the instrumentally backed narrative "Marquis Lights" concludes the album in yet another anticlimax, there's not much to remember. One is left with the frustrating feeling that while there is nothing decidedly bad about the album, so much potential has been left untapped. While I would recommend "New Distances" to fans of Botch above all, I have no arguments as to why they should prefer, or even bother to check out this. Admittedly it sounds very similar and most things seem to be in order, but when Botch has already outwitted Narrows tenfold in every aspect, I see no reason for those fans to depart from their beloved in favor of "New Distances".


Download: Sea Witch, Gypsy Kids

For the fans of: Botch, Coalesce, Converge, These Arms Are Snakes

Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.05.2009

Deathwish Inc.

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