09/02/10 || Khlysty
Before hopping in to review this record, I knew exactly jack-shit about Snowblood. Actually, I just found it there, on top of a list of “for immediate review” posted by Lord K and just took it. Expecting nothing, knowing nothing… tabula rasa, as the Romans used to say. Well, after listening to it for the first time, I felt compelled to look up in the RetardNet and see what I can come up about Snowblood. ‘Cause, see, I liked what I heard pwetty mucho. Pwetty, pwetty mucho.
OK, then, useful info first. Snowblood is/was (I’ll explain that later) a quartet from Scotland, that seems to specialize into a kind of post-rock/post-metal, that seems to take inspiration equally from bands like Melvins, Isis, Neurosis, Cult of Luna and from more “angry” post-rockers, like Mogwai and Slint –but in a REALLY foul and misanthropic disposition. Of course, Snowblood is more angular, more bottom-heavy and seriously more aggressive than, say, Mogwai. Their songs don’t hold even hints of “pop”, moving, instead, towards a far more noisy – almost impenetrable – approach, that sometimes reminds me of Isis (or other bands of their ilk) more strung-out and plainly UGLY moments.
The guitars are extremely heavy, even if they seem to be recorded in a more “snarling” way, than your basic sturm-und-drang bottomless sludge of, say, vintage Isis. The songs range from long (10+ minutes) to very long (almost 19 minutes) and seem to be based on “revisionist” doom riffing, but the band adds a quite a little flava in the whole deal, by exploiting tempo changes and textural devices, such as a commendable slather of feedback and careful orchestration, so that the songs’ lengths never become a burden to the listener. Also, the band isn’t ascairt to tone things down and wade through the guitar melancholy of post-rock (as displayed on the second of the four untitled tracks that comprise the record), imbibing the music with a clear sense of space and creating enough anticipation for the squall of guitars and screamed-out vocals to come in.
This is what I call “head” music: it’s pretty atmospheric, even during its most painfully heavy moments. It holds a lot of details, but one has to dig ‘em up from under a deep cover of sludge. It’s quite beautiful in its more serene moments and it’s devastatingly heavy when it wants/needs to be. The musicians surely know their shit and, even during the most intense moments, there’s always a sense of iron control over where the music will go and what will be achieved. The hefty lengths of the tracks hold almost zero redundancy; instead, through repetition and calculated implementation of instrumentation and dynamics, they achieve a sense of almost liturgical/ceremonial trance-inducing gravitas. The record’s overall mood is pretty dark and imposing, but not without moments of clarity and beauty.
The production is OK, although I’m not sure if some murkiness that I detect – especially as far as the drum sound is concerned – is intentional or just a matter of less-than-enough production money. All in all, if one’s interested in a pretty refreshing take on what has become known as “post-metal”, Snowblood offers a solid release with quite a lot of character, so as to be distinguishable from other similar records. The fact that this seems to be the band’s swan song is a pity, because, at least from what I hear in this record, Snowblood had quite a lot to offer to the world of “internalized” heaviness. All the same, good work, laddies.
- Released: 2009
- Label: SuperfiRecords
- Website: www.dextro.co.uk/snowblood
- Luke Devlin: vocals
- David Tobin: guitars
- Ewan Mackenzie: drums
- Graham Young: bass
- 01. Untitled I
- 02. Untitled II
- 03. Untitled III
- 04. Untitled IV