I originally reviewed the self-released version of this West Virginia trio's full-length a little over a year ago, and here it is again in slightly revised form (For whatever reason this one's about a minute longer than the original version?) via Code:Breaker/Earache. The band's edition of this CD came sans song titles, but thankfully they've decided to include names for each track on this reissue - though all seven tracks do run together seamlessly to form one fairly cohesive whole. "Sheet of Flames" opens and sets the stage for much of what's to come in sounding rather similar to Sunn, but with more of a concrete structure: Think plodding, pulsing feedback drones, dense low-end hums, a few very subtle samples scattered about, etc. Monotone singing vocals under a light filter come in briefly during the final minute of "Freeform for the Disenfranchised" and closely gel with the surrounding feedback drones before the programmed percussion finally kicks in with the title track - which eventually starts to unload some nice, thick harmonics ala Godflesh circa "Selfless", which I of course appreciate. "Fourth Realm" is the first of the segments that really surges forth and starts to sound more like a "song" in terms of utilizing a slightly more active tempo and bringing in Neurosis-esque shouting vocals relatively early on (again briefly) before cycling through plenty of slow, crushing power chords and even some watery clean passages. Sustained chords and crisp harmonics make a return during the sparse "14,000,000,000 Years Ago", which morphs into a wall of grating yet controlled noise that suddenly breaks down into a lush clean passage with melodic pulses of bass behind more reverberated guitar effects that eventually rise back into a detuned mass of sludge and samples in "Harvesting Sod" (the only track in which the moody keyboard accents actually reach a tangible level of prominence). The 15-minute whopper "Collapse" closes things out with more pounding rhythms and slightly abrasive picking patterns/effects, hitting on some of the only truly dissonant chord phrasings herein during its finest and most intense moments, before ending with over five minutes of windy scraping textures and sparse ambient noise. While I have to admit thinking that a live drummer would really power up this material nicely, the use of drum machines is working out a little better for me these days as it does add a certain mechanical industrial tinge to the backbone of the material, and it is among the best sounding drum programming I've ever encountered. The recording on the guitars and bass is so fucking strong, though: Heavy, clear, and perfectly mixed, and the same goes for the placement of the vocals deep in against the instrumentation. Were they to experiment with using a slightly colder feel to the guitar tone that might help ease the programmed drums into the mix, but I'd have a hard time arguing against the massively churning warmth that they've got in place for those guitars, so... that's good shit right there. I'd definitely like for the samples to be more prominent in the mix since they're usually almost impossible to decipher, so that's another point to consider in the future. The keyboards are kind of a non-issue for me since they're not really adding much to the material, but they're certainly not detrimental either. The layout is done entirely in black and white and mostly consists of blank black space. They opted to include recording and lineup information this time around on one textural sort of panel, but other than that it's just black space, clean text, and an emblem on the cover. Since the original pressing was done in metallic silver ink on matte black paper it looked a lot nicer, leaving this one to be somewhat plain and almost unfinished looking in appearance, but it still gets the job done. I'd still like to see lyrics too, even if the vast majority of the CD is instrumental! Again I'd recommended this disc for fans of Sunn, Meatjack, Halo, Godflesh, Neurosis, and that whole element of the extreme music palette. Here's to hoping these guys have a new record in the works since this one's already pushing two years old!
Running time - 53:25, Tracks: 7
[Notable tracks: The Light Carriers, Fourth Realm, Harvesting Sod]
Code:Breaker Records - http://www.earache.com