(Andy Synn presents three more examples of the “Best of British”)
Long story short… here’s three debut albums that bode very well for the future of the UK scene.
DIN OF CELESTIAL BIRDS – THE NIGHT IS FOR DREAMERS
For whatever reason, I’m not usually the biggest fan of totally instrumental bands (I guess, as a vocalist myself, the absence of the human voice just doesn’t always sit right with me… although, by the same token, a bad/mediocre vocalist, or sub-par lyrics, can ruin my enjoyment just as much as there being no vocals at all).
But The Night is for Dreamers, the long-gestating debut album from Din of Celestial Birds, is a welcome exception to this not-quite-rule.
What sets it apart, for me at least, is that on top of all the expected ebbing and swelling Post-Rock dynamics and dense, weighty Post-Metal riffs these songs actually tell a story – albeit one without words or voices – rather than simply serving as a background soundtrack to your daily commute, each track flowing smoothly and with purpose from one striking moment to the next in a way that constantly keeps you engaged and anticipating the next twist in the tale.
Whether that’s the way the shimmering, Devin Townsend-esque synths and and gleaming guitars (all underpinned by some pleasingly nimble and nuanced bass work) of “Utopia” swirl and dance around one another, or how the crackling electricity of “Junebug” eventually bursts into some irresistibly hooky and hard-hitting riffage, it’s this sense of storytelling momentum which helps The Night is for Dreamers largely avoid the potential pitfalls of the “Post-” genre(s) over the course of its 40+ minute run-time.
Additional highlights include the soaring, Astronoid/Vattnet Viskar-esque “Launch”, the Junius-ish juxtaposition of heaviness and harmony that is “Laureate of American Lowlife” and the Lantlôs-ian glamour of “Downpour”, but it’s the the climactic strains of “I Love You But It’s Killing Me” which – to me at least – represent the absolute best of what this album has to offer, and which practically guarantee that this is one release from 2023 I’m going to keep coming back to.
MAIRU – SOL CULTUS
Prodigal Post-Metal powerhouse Mairu are another band who aren’t afraid to let the music speak for itself sans vocals (“The Scattering Dust”, for example, is eight minutes of energising riffs and evocative atmospherics that clearly doesn’t need vocals in order to tell its story).
But when the band do raise their collective voice(s) the results are undeniably impressive, as demonstrated by the howling angst and bellowing fury that only serves to increase and enhance the overall impact of terrific tracks like humongously heavy opener “Torch Bearer” and the equally intense, but arguably even darker and doomier, “With Darkened Eyes”.
For all the album’s devastating density and immense intensity (or should that be “intense immensity”?), however, it’s clear that Mairu possess a keen understanding of the importance of employing a variety of tones and shades as well, with every punishing passage of gargantuan grooves and hammering heaviness being carefully balanced by moments of mood-altering ambience and/or gorgeous, gloom-shrouded melody that serve to add an extra dash of musical colour to the group’s creative palette.
This is perhaps most apparent during intricately-arranged album ender “Rite of Embers”, whose slow-burn, slow-build towards its grandiose finale – aided and abetted by a series of brooding, tension-building bass lines and an evocative ebb and flow of ringing melodies and restrained percussive patterns – epitomises the band’s almost innate grasp of fluid dynamics and creative contrast.
Sure, there’s still some room for growth and development in places but, honestly, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing because it means we still haven’t seen the best of what Mairu – potentially- have to offer!
WREATHE – THE LAND IS NOT AN IDLE GOD
Self-described “Anti-fascist Emo crust” quintet Wreathe may be based in London, but they recorded their debut album, The Land is Not an Idle God, at a studio not too far away from where I live here in Nottingham, which is where I first heard about it.
That little anecdote has no real bearing on how much I like the record by any means… I just thought it was an interesting example of how it’s still possible to stumble across new music without warning out there in the “real” world, as long as you keep your eyes and your ears open.
With their hearts pinned firmly on their sleeves and their fists raised defiantly in the air, Wreathe waste very little time in letting you know exactly who they are and what they stand for, kicking off with the powerful riffs and equally powerful melodies of “One Hundred Swords of Righteous Anger”, whose propulsive energy and visceral vitality should prove practically irresistible to even the most jaded and jaundiced of listeners.
Bearing strong similarities (although much punkier in overall vibe and vision) to the likes of King Apathy, Downfall of Gaia and (of course) Fall of Efrafa, the tectonic grooves of “Green Messiah” and the brooding, booming, doom-laden strains of “Enemy of All Reason” showcase not only the group’s musical versatility – as exemplified by the former’s fearless fusion of hooks and heaviness, and the latter’s mid-song transition from weighty melancholy to wildfire fury – but also unquestionable, unquenchable passion (with the lyrics in particular demanding close examination to fully appreciate the band’s raison d’etre).
And for all the record’s relatively short run-time (we can argue over whether it’s an album or an EP another time) it has the presence of something much larger (and, indeed, much heavier – both in terms of subject matter and sheer sonic force), with the end result being that tracks like the outstanding “The Stumps are the Graves of the Land” and incredibly cathartic closer “Mother of All Woe” are likely to stay with you long after their final notes have faded from the speakers.