All Roads Lead North

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Last year, many metal critics hailed 2014 as the year of “hideous sludge”. Hard-hitting Toilet reporter Ed even dedicated a fair portion of his Soundtrack to Your Annihilation series exploring the characteristics and primary exporters of the silty and sinister sound. However, from the salt-sewn fields and scorched earth of 2014 a glorious phoenix is arising. Friends, 2015 may very well be the year of beautiful sludge.

“Beautiful sludge? Isn’t that a bit of a misnomer?” I know, I’ve asked myself the same thing, but with bands like TorcheNeurosis, and Pelican all painting breathtaking sonic landscapes of picturesque swamps, it’s hard to deny that there isn’t something glorious emerging from the sewage like the Lady of the Lake in the tale of Arthur Eld.  New Neurosis should be enough to get any living man or woman’s blood pumping, but one of the releases I’m most excited about is the double threat issued by Arizona trio North. And to think I had never even heard of this band until last week!

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On June 2nd, Prosthetic Records is releasing two albums (with another somewhere down the line) from the atmospheric/post-metal masters. The first, a reissue 2006’s Siberia is a largely instrumental affair seemingly incongruous with the arid surroundings the band calls home. Siberia invokes the wintry chill and suffocating isolation of its namesake region, but there’s a radiant array of colors that erupts like some unexpected aurora from behind the grey clouds of smothering reverb, ponderous drums, and avalanche riffs. For those who missed this album on the first go-around, gaze upon the icy seracs and brave the unknown with this reissue.

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The second album, 2014’s Metanoia EP, is also getting the reissue treatment. This time around, North have added pained vocals to act as your spiritual guide along your journey to self-enlightenment. All of the trace elements of heavy and heavenly established with the debut release are in full effect here, but there’s an added thoughtfulness, an extra pensive quality to the typical sludge murk that catches you unawares more often than not. The vocals are a welcome addition that inject an added ray of sunshine to an otherwise deadly vision quest, giving you that last bit of hope to triumph over the hardships of survival.

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So what sets North apart from the other post-metal, atmospheric, and sludge bands in their field? This trio is able to craft expert songs that perfectly balance brutality and finesse, rage and grace, light and dark. Each song itself is a memorable tale, but all tracks collected together paint a remarkable picture. Although cut from the same vine as more hard-rocking bands like Kylesa and Helms Alee, North have an artfulness and a beauty all their own, less sweat-soaked streets of New Orleans and more contemplative depths of Walden lake, if Walden was actually a swamp.

Like what you hear? Be sure to follow North on Facebook and buy some albums on Bandcamp. Also, if you live on the West Coast or in the Midwest, you’re in luck, because North are coming to a town near you. Check out the tour dates and support acts below.

6/10 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
6/11 Riverside, CA – Mission Tobacco Lounge
6/12 Glendale, CA – Complex *
6/13 San Jose, CA – The Caravan ^
6/14 Chico, CA – 1078 ^
6/15 Eugene, OR – The Wandering Goat ^
6/16 Portland, OR – Rotture ^
6/17 Seattle, WA – Black Lodge ^
6/18 Spokane, WA – The Pin *
6/19 Billings, MT – The Railyard *
6/20 Fort Collins, CO – Foot Foot Fest *
6/21 Denver, CO – 7th Circle Collective *
6/22 Albuquerque, NM – Burt’s Tiki Lounge
6/24 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
8/10 Tucson, AZ – Flycatcher (w/ Primitive Man, Northless)
* with Secrets of the Sky
^ with Secrets of the Sky & Cold Blue Mountain

(Photos VIA and VIA)

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