Review: Arctic Sleep – Kindred Spirits

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Remember that hellish “best unsigned band in the USA” bracket we did forever ago? Well, if you do, you might remember that our Wisconsin pick, Arctic Sleep, made it all the way to the friggin’ quarter-finals with a unique brand of atmospheric prog doom.

I was a big proponent of Passage of Gaia during that run, so I am excited to announce the next release, Kindred Spirits is out today! This new album shares a tone with its predecessor, but it’s significantly less aggressive. In this more contemplative state, it delivers an ethereal doom that rides the line between despair and hope. It’s certainly more about mood than it is about riffing you to shreds, but there’s still plenty of competent heavy guitar work scattered throughout.

I can anticipate some listeners having an issue with the consistent and slow pacing, but I’d argue this sort of lull prog has an interesting effect over the course of the nearly 70 minutes. The builds between great harmony-filled choruses make those moments even more memorable. The best examples of this are “Meadows”, “Eternal Sunbeam”, and “Cloud Map”, on which Keith’s naturally low vocal range is supplemented by some guest appearances that make those harmonies shine. Another highlight for me is the experimentation on the instrumental track “Connemara Moonset”, which has a excellent Intronaut-like bass line, tribal drumming, and some fancy acoustic guitar.

What Arctic Sleep excels at above all is the ability to execute a consistent tone. Not to degrade the creation of great music using the influences of many members, but it’s a special thing when a singular vision comes to life successfully like this. Go snag it on Bandcamp now.

(P.S. a certain Big Enough fan might appreciate what I kept referring to as a Jimmy Barnes moment at the end of the opening track.)

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