Friday, 1 July 2011

DOWNLOAD: Embers - Shadows


Oakland, CA based Embers release their debut full length album for name your price on Bandcamp.  The tracks range from five to over ten minutes in length with short drone intro and outros bookending, opening and sealing the portal into this black space of experimentalism.  There are all kinds of influences at work here, but the overall intent is to throw out a smoky cowl of atmospheric doom from you speakers. At the forefront is a lot of soaring melodic guitar work reminiscent of Black and Death metal but also more ambient styles of Isis-oriented post-metal shoegaze, complemented by passages of striding Doom heavy basslines that lurch down from the faster tempos towards crushing slow motion riffs. The momentum is carried across some phenomenal drum patterns; ominously booming tom progressions, rabid snare battery.  The vocals shift and between high pitched gothic black metal shrieking to guttural death grunting, melding everything together harmoniously (if not incredibly filthily).  This is a record you will find yourself lost inside like a rabbit hole following its twists and turns deeper and deeper until you are somewhere startlingly novel without realising how you got there.

Over ten tracks and around an hour in length the six band members take turns at holding the forefront to keep the atmosphere gloomy but never cheesy - including the appearance of viola player on Awakening that adds a subtle yet effective further layer of detail to the mix. Keyboards provide a lot of extra colour to the tracks, keeping drones locked down beneath this swiftly churning rhythm section and creating the symphonic harmonies that prevent the doom from becoming overbearing. The twin guitars play off each other with a glorious level of intuitive interplay;  one refracting the basslines, the other lashing out with counterpoint melody, tremolo-picking, solos and more riffs.  The first full track Eucharist provides an opening flourish of much of what will appear across the album, so if you like that expect all that you appreciate about it to be expanded on across the remaining 40 minutes all the way down to the final cyclical climax of Dreams, the peak and pinnacle of the way the band build through their influences towards something that transcends them all, reaching an overlapping tidal surge of a finale before collapsing in on itself to an exhausted conclusion.

An excellent deeply involving listen that should surely find itself getting re-released on a well deserved platter of black wax in the future.

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