Written by: PP on 16/10/2011 04:24:38

"It's the heartache of losing everything you know" - a lyrical outpour taken from the opening track of seminal sludge metal band Rwake's fifth album "Rest", which might just be their career-defining album. It's with a hesitant mind I make that statement because of the fan-acclaim their albums "Voices Of Omens" and "Hell is A Door To The Sun" enjoy, but as suggested by that descriptive line I've pulled out of the 12 minute mammoth "It Was Beautiful But Now It's Sour", if absolute, unmitigated despair had a sound attached to it, "Rest" would be it. It's an album with an all-encompassing atmosphere of hopeless despondency, an antonym to optimism, and a sonic expression of ugly in every possible way. Ironically, it's the beauty in which that idea is executed that makes "Rest" a milestone album in sludge metal.

The soundscape of "Rest" is akin to waking up in a post-apocalyptic world, wandering around desolate cities and deteriorating buildings, and having the thought of "maybe everyone has perished except me" slowly creeping into your mind. It's the moment where desperate loneliness takes over; if any of you readers have been to the completely deserted Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in Ukraine, you'll start understanding the landscape Rwake are carefully painting in one's mind. They do this through doom metal-like progressive instrumentation, purposefully taking forever to build their case, yet they lead the listener on masterfully through beautiful lulls and multiple climaxes per song in order to keep one interested for the 16 minutes that, for instance, "The Culling" lasts. The vocals, which often pause from the soundscape for several minutes at a time, are decipherable cries of help, but consist of sounds so tormented and tortured that one has to wonder whether the singer has a past of being held as a secret prisoner in some secret facility in a country known to torture its detainees. His desperate howls are among the most miserably sounding echoing cries I've ran across, disheartening and mournful every bit of the way, though with a hint of ugly melody lurking in the background at all times. Listen in past the seven minute mark of "The Culling" to know precisely what I mean.

It's one hell of a track, but the album highlight is the 14 minute closing track "Was Only A Dream". It's a piece that displays Rwake at its most melodic and beautiful (relatively speaking), toying with the listener's emotions and hopes that something soothing is about to come, but more of the same tormenting howl is about to follow as soon as the vocalist spouts out his lyrics. The contrast is overwhelmingly good; playing this song alongside the stuff from "Voices Of Omens" and "Hell Is A Door To The Sun" truly explains why those albums scored four full grades lower than "Rest" in my reviews. Basically, the bottom line is this: welcome to 54 minutes of torment in its purest form. "Rest" is quite frankly one of the finest sludge albums I've ever come across.

Download: Was Only A Dream, The Culling
For the fans of: Indian, Rabbits, Kongh, Tombs
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 27.09.2011

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