I have to say, this one particular album took a while to grow on me. But it soon struck me that the new release from Tuscon, Arizona-based and strangely antithetically named post-metallers North was more than just another Isis or Cult of Luna styled sludge metal album. The Great Silence, I had to admit, was strikingly beautiful and deeply satisfying through and through. Here's why:
The biggest point in favour of this album is that it has much more variety and spice than your average sludge/post-metal album, and that's saying a lot of something, given that most post-metal bands are content to replay the same type of music over and over without embellishment. Over the course of an hour, The Great Silence moves from low, distant drones to huge, bellowing displays of guitar, and about twenty different styles in between. North never seem to do the same thing twice--there's always a curveball or a new trick to keep you guessing until the very end, all of it executed impeccably.
Take the opening belch-like, gutturally melodic vocals of “Sentience”: coupled with the atmospheric drumming and guitars, the entire effect is nothing short of disconcerting, leaving you unsure exactly where the band is going to proceed to. Then there are the disorienting complex-time sections, like during the march-like "Inanimate Fathers" or the half-waltz "Paradox", that seem to bring so much intensity and expressiveness to an otherwise slowly-paced album. "Pulse" feels triumphal and gratifying, as if Explosions in the Sky suddenly went metal, yet the dirge "Patience" feels much more depressingly melancholic and contemplative. The female vocals in "Origins" come out of absolutely nowhere, a surprise that's both novel and effectively shocking against such an unpolished background. And, of course, the big-ass closing epic "Où est Tout le Monde?" is just fantastic through and through.
Sure, at the end of the day, North aren't bringing anything staggeringly new to the genre, but who cares? They pull of the this album so splendidly and proficiently that it doesn't really matter. They like what they're doing and they're doing it well, and that's the most you could really hope for. It's not the next Oceanic or Somewhere Along the Highway, but it's enjoyable and even cathartic.
North have twisted new life into post-metal, infusing the genre with a fresh burst of creative composition and unusual energy. The Great Silence is deeply satisfying, and will undoubtedly scratch that sludgy itch to your satisfaction.
Recommended if you like: early Baroness, The Ocean, A Storm of Light
8.5 / 10
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