Redwood Hill


Written by: AP on 12/02/2013 22:23:04

In concert, it took less than one song to convince me that in Redwood Hill, Denmark had coughed up a remarkable band. Since that experience - a triumphant show in support of Envy - it has been nigh impossible to curtail my expectations for their debut album "Descender", which has been a long time coming. Nearly one and a half years, to be exact. But as is known, there is a reason for everything, and taking the time to write, refine and rewrite music until it sits within reach of perfection is certainly not the worst thing to preoccupy yourself with. It isn't often that a band decides to go sideways when others proceed straight in this country, and it is perhaps this nonconformity that sets Redwood Hill apart from most contemporary Danish metal bands.

Already the mere name of the band evokes powerful imagery: the towering majesty of the world's tallest trees, and the misty darkness that reigns beneath their sheath is about as apt a metaphor as you're going to get for the music of "Descender". It offers no relent in its exploration of the darkness hidden in the human psyche, and to say that the songs tangle themselves into a marriage of light and dark is true only in the same way that pale rays of moonlight siphoned through the dark silhouettes of soldier pines offer comfort to a child wandering through a pitch black forest alone at night. Indeed, even in its most soothing moments, such as the gentle chanting of "Like rocks into rivers / Like trails in the dust" in "Dybbuk" or the hammer-on lead that concludes "Poseidon", the album never forgets its frostbitten nordic heritage.

Where it lies stylistically, is difficult to pinpoint. The magisterial enormity of the soundscape, and the simplicity of the methods with which grandeur is summoned, are distinctive of the post-metal genre. But the band's frequent plunges into a black metal abyss on tracks like "Tristesse" and "Croatoan" uncover other, more sinister influences, too, while the aberrant chaos at the beginning of "Dybbuk" and at the end of "Tristesse" makes no small nod toward their countrymen in The Psyke Project. It is perhaps not a lack of want or trying to find a suitable label then that has led Redwood Hill to fashion themselves simply as a depressive nordic metal band. Though perhaps it would be more appropriate to avoid any mention of a band in the context of this album; such is the extent to which Redwood Hill strive to depersonify themselves as mere vessels for the music.

"Descender" plays as one seamlessly flowing piece of music, and is best experienced as such. It is impossible to fathom the purpose of each quietus, crescendo or harrowing drone out of context, yet when arranged into a continuous barrage clocking in at 37 minutes, you're either deaf or daft if your mind won't start wandering through thoughts, feelings and images that you were gladly unaware of possessing. Do not expect to be uplifted; expect to stimulated, empowered, and to find beauty in the murkiest of moments. "Descender" offers a time for anxiety, a time for rage, and a time for catharsis. It is the perfect companion to a hike through Scandinavian nature of the fall and winter in all its barren beauty, and in my humble opinion, one of the finest metal albums to emerge from Denmark in recent memory.


Download: Dybbuk, Tristesse, Poseidon, Croatoan
For the fans of: Cult of Luna, The Psyke Project, Trenches
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.02.2013
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