Joaquin’s Rapid Review Roundup 6
“What has Joaquin been listening to?” is a question no one has ever asked before. If they did, I’d tell them Elder, Sonja, Earthrise, Sunflo’er, and Dreadnaught are some choice picks.
Elder is one of those bands that found their formula surprisingly early but continues to push the boundaries of what that formula can do. Their unmatched psychedelic riffs continue to be the driving force of each track, but a focus on balance is what defines Innate Passage. You can expect the same insane solos and cathartic meandering grooves that you’ve been hearing since at least Lore, but you get a little more from the bass and synth tracks that tease and mimic the guitar to great effect. I’ve always enjoyed how DiSalvo’s vocals sounded “added-on” to what feels like an intentionally instrumental band, but this record is different. The vocals feel a little bit more baked into the plan and the improved performance is unmistakable, not to mention the unreal vocal harmonies, like at the end of “Catastasis”. Their tried-and-true method of five 10-minute tracks continues here with no loss of expertise on pacing and evolving to keep it exciting. Unsurprisingly, it’s another huge success for the kings of the genre.
This was one of those promos where I had my finger hovering on the delete button before the first note even finished, but god damn was I wrong. I was assuming it would be some cheap sleazy rock where the sleaze was the only selling point (which is surprisingly common in my inbox). Instead, I was greeted by immediately catchy riffs and great vocals. It’s an excellent blend of melodic doom, heavy metal, and anthemic gothic rock that is impossible not to love. Of course, if I read more than two sentences, I would have also been intrigued by the fact that this is led by Melissa Moore, who was kicked out of Absu for coming out as transgender. The excellence of this album is the greatest “fuck you” I can imagine for the members that didn’t support her. It’s incredible, please check this out. FFO: Unto Others, Four Stroke Barron
Do any of you ancient Tolieteers remember baby pumpkin, aka HessianHunter? Some of his fellow Minnesota pals sent over their album, and boy am I glad they did. Until We Rest Beneath the Winter Way hits pretty much all of my go-to genres and themes: progressive metal, post-metal, and space. You get plenty of that heavy sludgy pummeling goodness with enough melodic interjections to provide the hooks and instill a strong thematic element. In a pretty homogenous genre, Earthrise set themselves apart with big clean vocal moments (like in “From Below” and “Prisoner’s Cinema“) and labyrinthian grooves that build up until that excellent finale. FFO: Cult of Luna, Rosetta, The Ocean
If there’s an ETID-shaped hole in your heart, I can emphatically suggest that Sunflo’er can help the healing process. It has that same grind-ish ferocity forced into a melodic hardcore package that is difficult to replicate. Their ability to rapidly change dynamics prevents the ear fatigue I get with other bands in the genre, especially with a nice light prog showing on track 5. It’s a mathy cacophony somehow mixed and leveled into something pleasant, a true miracle.
Dreadnought caught my attention in 2017 with A Wake In Sacred Waves, then for some reason totally lost it until now. I wish I had the time to listen to their 2019 album and see if there was any valid reason for that other than maybe I was in a bad mood at the time, but The Endless has brought me back into the fold. The super dynamic dreamy progressive doom is really one-of-a-kind. Having dual vocalists delivering interspliced lines adds some unique texture, especially with their impressive ranges. Even though the vocals are a highlight, it’s the swirling prog-metal atmosphere that is the centerpiece. Heavy organ synths, sweeping solos, and weird punctuation make Dreadnought what it is.