Endless Light

Written by: TL on 02/04/2016 12:43:59

The Atlanta quintet O'Brother was highly praised in previous reviews by our now retired scribe DR. Enough so that it seems worthwhile to pick up the torch and, at least, investigate the state of the group on their recently released third album "Endless Light". On it, you will find a dark, dreamy and mysterious soundscape, patient and post-rock-ishly constructed with guitars both clean and distorted, with dashes of piano. Comparisons could be drawn to the mighty Junius, if it weren't for the vocals drawing in different directions: at times reminding you of the dramatic cleans of My Epic's Aaron Stone or Muse's Matt Bellamy, yet just as often rising to rougher bellowing that eventually brings the whole thing closest to the more atmospheric Thrice material.

It's an alluring mixture even at a glance, which compels you to dive into the record to investigate, leading you through patient and expansive atmospheres that do indeed channel Thrice and My Epic, over moments of corrosive frustration and a moment of screaming in "Bloodlines", and into moments of clean guitar interplay in a track like "Time Is A Length Of Rope", which feel like the eerie soundtrack to hack 'n' slashing your way through festering undead in the depressing ruins of the Diablo 2 town Tristram (assuming you're old enough to have played the Blizzard PC classic).

The praise for O'Brother finds justification in how carefully detailed and balanced the songs generally feel on the album, with the instrumental progressions routinely moving ahead in ways that reward the attentive listener with a very wholesome and textured experience. You get the feeling that if the band one day had to pull a Tides Of Man and go entirely instrumental, they probably could do so with good results. Yet there's no reason to hope for that, as the singing on here is also top shelf. Whether the lines are sung with clear notes or with a rougher edge, the lyrics are almost always intelligible, and this aspect of the record also feels like it has had a lot of attention to detail put into it.

The single "Deconstruct" is a wise choice for a highlight, sporting both a memorably stuttered "I... I- I.. I saw the end of time" which emphasises the verses' bass groove just as it gets rolling, while a bit later the minimalistic "Burn" really brings the Thrice vibes, rising upon swirling piano to a scratched chorus of "I wanna watch it all buuuuurn!". And still later on, a song like "Black Hole" simultaneously stands out, yet also brings awareness of something the rest of the album might lack a bit, namely variation in tempo, as the switching of gears before the chant of "You lead into the night and I follow" helps the song become that little bit extra captivating.

The thing is, though, that despite O'Brother's evident qualities on "Endless Light", their patience and restraint get to becoming somewhat double-edged swords for them. On one hand, these are exactly what gives you the impression of depth in their soundscape, yet at the same time - even with the mentioned highlights taken into consideration - as an album "Endless Light" can feel like you're waiting a long time for it to build into something a bit more striking. It has a lot of "uuuuhh uuhhh" 's and "ooohh ohhh" 's haunting the background, adding a sense of spirituality and mystery to the atmosphere's building up, but it lacks those decisive moments like an "In Exile" (Thrice) or a "Sound And Fury" (My Epic) to really gather up all the momentum and deliver some punches that make the listener remember. The record has a very pervasive feeling of quality that will absolutely reward you anytime you do decide to put it on, yet its 50 minutes over 11 tracks can get to feeling a bit lengthy, and it might not seize you or call you back for as long as it would like.


Download: Deconstruct, Burn, Black Hole
For The Fans Of: My Epic, Thrice, Junius, Muse
Listen: facebook.com/OBrotherMusic

Release date 25.03.2016
Triple Crown Records

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