(On September 15th Chaos Records will release the second album by the California band Tideless, and today we’ve got Wil Cifer‘s impressions of the music to share with you.)
2023 has so far become an impressive year for death metal .Many bands continue to sharpen the blade forged in Tampa, others make conscious attempts to wander their own path. California band Tideless set themselves further apart from the status quo with their sophomore release Eye of Water.
The aggression is dialed back as they lean in a post-rock direction with a cinematic sonic scope. At just under seven minutes the opening track is the shortest song on this album, as the songs seem to require extended track lengths to lay the groundwork for the breadth of the dynamics they are building toward.
The first growl of vocals is heard on the second song; they are used in almost a more funeral doom fashion. The sweeping melodies of shoegaze come into play about midway into the song to make things more interesting.
“Oblations for the Sun” kicks into motion with the kind of double-bass barrage that is expected from death metal. As far as guitar solos go they crank out a ripper on this one, bridging the distance between the aggression the song begins with and the melodic ghosts of atmosphere to come.
The song floats off to become a 19-minute fever dream. The drums employ an undercurrent of double bass at times to keep things grounded. The song breaks down to the point of feeling like it wants to become a different song, but the sonic pull of this creation presses it forward into a passage that holds the sweeping shimmer of a late ’90s post-hardcore emotional build up.
“Laurels of Victory’ might be the best-blended balance of what they do. The shoegazing and growl-raising are in equal proportions. The tremolo-picked guitars racing around certain sections of this song create more of a black metal feel. The ripping solos do keep coming to add a more melodic texture, allowing the ten-minute time span to become a well-balanced limit to songwriting excess.
The last song of the album is the immense “Lush Serene Dissolved” . It opens with the drums riding a jazzy groove that progresses into a more astral sonic space. The fact that they hold attention with the sounds they weave into this 23 -minute song is a testament to their talents, as I would normally be opposed to a song that is almost as long as the entire Reign in Blood album. The excess of not editing the arrangement down only flares up when things ebb down to the point of making the most sense for another track to start, especially when the music it builds back up into does not contain a theme that is carried forward into the rest of the sprawl. This however is not a deal breaker.
The vocals also stay at the same monochrome gurgled grunt. This is the rare place where Tideless shares common ground with your typical death metal band. I normally prefer vocals that are more dynamic, even those limited to growls or screams, particularly when not articulated in a manner that helps the lyrical narrative stand out. For what they do, this style of vocalization creates more of a textural mood. The band also do not dig into the kind of weighty chugs that bands like Obituary or Morbid Angel are noted for.
The benefit to these guys wearing the death metal tropes as a loose garment makes them less prone to just default into blurs of speed that rush the songs. Throughout the album they capture moments where they find the perfect balance of shoegaze and death metal.
There are some for whom that very notion might repulse me, and that is fine — the new Incantation is going to be out soon enough. This album conjures up many sonically stunning moments to show the band is onto something remarkable here. They have my attention and I look forward to where they are going from here. If you are looking for death metal that approaches their atmosphere with different sonic colors, then this is the album to check out.