Planning for Burial

Below the House

Written by: MIN on 18/04/2018 15:42:39

One of the most exciting things about attending music festivals is the preparation before the actual event, namely checking out the bands on the lineup that you don’t already know. This year, one of my favorite “finds” is the American one-man project Planning for Burial by Thom Wasluck, who’s third record, “Below the House”, was released last year. “Below the House” is a record that draws as much on ambient and shoegaze as it does on doom and gothic metal, giving nods to both Chelsea Wolfe and King Woman, Have A Nice Life and Deafheaven. Equipped with a sparse yet poignant lyric sheet, Wasluck says only just enough to let us in, giving way for the music to speak on its own.

The album sets off with its heaviest song, “Whiskey and Wine”, where distorted guitars clash over you like the waves of an unforgiving ocean. Accompanied by an air raid of synths and a layer of noise that refuses to let go, Wasluck’s coarse shouts almost drown amongst it all, ultimately producing a sound that is both suffocating and emotionally overpowering. The remaining tracks throughout the album never revisits this type of vocal delivery, making “Whiskey and Wine” stand out as both a choice cut and a strong album-opener. Fret not, however, for where Wasluck refuses to shout, his music insists on doing so: songs like “Somewhere in the Evening” and “Dull Knife Pt. 1” provide enough guitar feedback to satisfy Kevin Shields, and the former of the songs actually features a few distant screams in the back, behind the noise and Wasluck’s baritone.

It’s rare for an album of this breed to spawn songs that one could see make it as actual “singles”, yet that’s exactly what the aforementioned album-opener and, especially, other album highlight, “Warmth of You”, feel like. Clocking in at just over three and a half minute, the bass-driven “Warmth of You” has the perfect formula to make it unto various playlists without alienating a less adventurous audience, nor without turning off fans of heavy music. It’s not hard to see why Robert Smith recently chose Planning for Burial to play as part of London’s 25th Meltdown Festival, as fans of the Cure and Interpol need look no further than this track to get engaged.

Although there are actually nine tracks on “Below the House”, the eighth one feels like the album’s culmination. “Dull Knife Pt. II” is long, slow and repetitive, primarily focusing on the song’s final line ”Calling me back home”, but the build-up is so mesmerizingly beautiful that it goes by like nothing. As could be expected, the song gets increasingly louder and adds a few extra voices and instruments somewhere along the way, but it never explodes the way you’d expect – instead, it suddenly turns into noise and static. There’s no huge explosion, just a constant gain throughout that suddenly ends and turns into a few strums on the guitar – and frankly, it’s all for the better, as the gain and abrupt ending emphasizes the longing and mysticism that drench the lyrics.

With his third LP under the Planning for Burial moniker, Thom Wasluck has created one of the most raw and honest records of 2017, despite (or because of) the many layers of noise and a reluctance to reveal more than what’s necessary. “Below the House” is an album that takes hold of whatever it wants and successfully manages to mold every element into something that’s very much part of the record’s DNA, fully capable of feeling cohesive and whole, passionate and real.

Download: Whiskey and Wine, Warmth of You, Dull Knife Pt. I & II
For The Fans Of: Have a Nice Life, King Woman, Chelsea Wolfe, The Angelic Process, My Bloody Valentine
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.03.2017
The Flenser

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