At The Soundawn


Written by: AP on 09/04/2010 23:17:33

Moving into other territories, my next subject of examination is the Italian post-metal outfit At the Soundawn - must tread carefully lest our website be accused of bigotry again. Fortunately there is no need to let external factors like potential hate mail influence my evaluation, because "Shifting" is in a different league than some of their countrymen; no names mentioned. At the Soundawn are fortunate because post-metal is a genre in which you cannot do wrong: pluck a couple of notes on the guitar and press various pedals, throw in some ambient noise and feedback, and occasionally set the guitar tone to sludge for heavier parts. This is my cynical view.

However, At the Soundawn are not simply aping Isis or Neurosis. Instead, the post-metal must haves are complemented by equal amounts of Mogwai-like post-rock and an overall progressive atmosphere that bears a certain resemblance to a French band I reviewed last year, Hypno5e. This influence is most prominent when drummer Enrico Calvano whips our the brush sticks and leads the band into the trumpet-backed quietus "Caofedian" - one of the best songs on the album. Gradually the song builds momentum as Enrico returns to ordinary sticks and vocalist Luca De Stefano switches from tender clean singing to harsh grunting reminiscent of Sean Ingram (Coalesce), and escalates into a chilling crescendo. "Drifting Lights" then takes over with wavering feedback and, one minute into the song, a beautiful acoustic lead coupled with echoing tribal drumming, and eventually leads into a soothing bass solo introducing "Black Waves". Like "Caofedian", this song adheres to the album's formulaic backbone: tension, escalation and release.

As such, the individual songs do work for single listens, but the idea behind "Shifting" emerges only from listening to it in full. The music comes in waves, and the best tracks to exemplify the album's fluidity is the appropriately titled "Black Waves" and album closer "Prometheus Brings Us the Fire", the most accessible, and surprisingly also the best song on the album: a progressive nine-minute mammoth that lays down more weight than an industrial compressor and concludes with a devastatingly beautiful climax that bears a certain resemblance to those found in The Psyke Project's music. When you consider the intent, the music is actually extremely well written, save for a few outbursts of pretense and unnecessary melodrama, and while the songs might not be memorable on their own, "Shifting" as a whole is a meditative, otherworldly experience driven by unreserved creativity and the general attitude that less is more. Nothing groundbreaking, but it is elegant and thoughtful enough to deserve this

Download: Caofedian, Black Waves, Prometheus Brings Us the Fire
For the fans of: Hypno5e, Isis, Mogwai, Neurosis
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.03.2010

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