I quite like a few bands that are signed to Metal-Blade records. This means I sometimes check their websites and facebook pages to see what new stuff is coming and whether they’ve signed any new bands. When I saw this band, I was intrigued. Having listened to the track posted, I was instantly hooked. With this being a re-release and not having heard the original, I’ll be reviewing it as I would normally.
Production wise, you can hear everything. Literally everything. I praise the mixing engineer highly for this. It’s a joy to be able to hear everything, particularly with music like this. Having no vocals, means the instruments take center stage, and because you can hear everything you can pick out each melody.
Starting with the track, “From Roots to Needles” the album opens with an ambient and clean guitar riff. It then begins to build into a section with overdriven guitar melodies, complex drum patterns with the bass keeping everything together. It’s truly a joy to listen to something that’s this creative and somewhat relaxing. Featuring a weird side to side wobble about half way through, it once again drops back into a calm and collected section before blasting into one last overdriven section.
“What’s in the Ground Belongs to You” plays next, having a vinyl sounding effect with a simple guitar riff to start before becoming more modern sounding and bringing the rest of the instruments in. Being more a little more spaced out than the previous to start, it’s the sort of song you could maybe hear in some kind of nature documentary. Kicking things into overdrive about 1:24 before the end, it changes tone considerably but still retains its original feel and ends with a wind sound and faded out ringing guitars.
The shortest song on the album then plays. Featuring a really reverberant guitar in the background, it’s completely different to the previous two and makes for a nice interlude and fades perfectly into the next track.
“Above the Earth”, part of the title track then plays. It’s a calm and collected piece, with clean guitars and superbly layered melodies. Being one of the slowest tracks on the album, it once again makes for a nice interlude from the chaos of the previous tracks.
“Below the Sky”, the second part of the title track follows on with a similar theme to the previous. Layered melodies on clean guitars with the bass and drums keeping everything in check. Being the longest track on the album, it goes through many changes in riffs, but still retains a sense of slight calm before bringing in the overdriven guitars around the 3:13 mark. Fading back into a slower section with a piano at 4:08, it calms things down before bringing back the overdriven guitars into a more reflective part at 5:33. As with all the tracks, it’s a joy to listen to.
Starting with a mid paced guitar riff is the song “The Sun is in the North”. Launching into the usual clean section instrumentation, it shows off the musicianship of the players very well. Bringing in overdriven guitars at 1:10 briefly; along with a faint backing melody it creates a good calm feel before launching into another overdriven section. Coming back into a slightly quicker building clean section at 2:54 with the faint melody becoming more prominent it changes the feel of the song before really slowing down around the 3:45 mark. This song is one of my favorites of the album and a standout track, it goes through numerous changes and keeps the listener entertained throughout.
“Thirty-Six Silos” then plays and I’m reminded of an instrumental section from an Insomnium song. It’s a bit like one of the ones from the bonus disk on “Shadows of the Dying Sun”. Really spaced out, reflective and featuring multiple guitar parts. Kicking up the pace at 2:59 it retains it’s feel but creates a more distressed kind of feeling before fading out into wind at the end of the track.
Coming in with an altogether different sound, “The Flames of Herostratus” creates a sad but picturesque feeling before bringing in the overdriven guitars and trashing drums at 2:08. It keeps it’s feeling but once again makes it feel more distressed. If the song had lyrics, I would imagine they would tell some kind of story, as it feels like that kind of song.
“Rebuilding the Temple of Artemis” plays next, opening with both clean and overdriven guitar melodies. Having a sort of march like building section it then surprisingly leads into a calmer section. This makes for a change from the building and then heavy style the rest of the album has. Once again, it changes to overdriven guitars but it keeps the same feel but adds slight despair and madness. The track finishes once again with the wind/drone sound.
The final track of the album, “Deus Ex Machina” opens with a clean reverberant guitar riff. Spaced out guitar riffs are then thrown around each side of the stereo field creating a feeling of calm amongst the storm. It provides a suitable end to a varied and enjoyable album.
I was genuinely surprised after I listened to this album. It’s been expertly crafted and is truly a joy to listen to. In terms of recommendation, I’d say fans of instrumental metal and the more experimental side of the genre would enjoy it.
- Form Roots to Needles
- What’s in the Ground Belongs to You
- Terra Incognita
- Above the Earth
- Below the Sky
- The Sun Is in the North
- Thirty-Six Silos
- The Flames of Herostratus
- Rebuilding the Temple of Artemis
- Deus Ex Machina
Above the Earth, Below the Sky is released on January 27th, 2015 through Metal Blade.