(Andy Synn sets out once more to explore the post-genre hybrid of Limbs)
The bitter truth is that, no matter how dedicated and conscientious you are about trying to keep up with new releases, you’re always going to miss stuff.
Heck, there are albums which have gone on to become all-time favourites of mine that I didn’t get around to hearing until months, sometimes years, after their original release, and bands I’ve been fans of ever since they started who I didn’t realise had something new out until they announced they were working on their next record.
Thankfully, however, I’m only a little late to the party when it comes to Everything Under Heaven, the recently-released third album from Manila-based trio Limbs.
Having first encountered the band a little while after the release of their second album, Soft Narcosis (which I heartily recommend you check out here), I was already aware – thankfully – that Limbs are the sort of band who treat genre tags more like vague suggestions than rigid restrictions.
Of course, even if I hadn’t been aware of this, it wouldn’t have taken long for me to realise that the group’s unorthodox – yet undeniably catchy – amalgam of metallic (almost math-y) Hardcore, pristine Post-Rock atmospherics, nerve-jangling technical twists and propulsively punk-y energy offers the sort of musical melange that doesn’t adhere to anyone else’s formula.
From the clashing chords, caustic screams, and moments of soothing calm which make up “A Terror Divine” (prefaced, of course, by the scene-setting introduction of “Eyes on the Inside”) all the way to the final glistening notes of its climactic title-track, Everything Under Heaven is the type of album which reveals new facets of itself with every turn.
Sometimes (such as during “Transactional Rifle” or “The Demon Overhead”) it recalls the bitter bite of Zao or the squalling catharsis of Dreamwell, while other tracks hint at an affinity for the off-kilter angst of the Blood Brothers (“Hope Belligerent”) or the simmering musical magic of Battle of Mice (“Metropolis of Salt”), yet the album never sticks in one place for too long – or, at least, never long enough to make it seem as though the band are taking too much from their influences – as it criss-crosses genre-boundaries without even seeming to recognise that they exist.
Occasionally, I’ll grant you, this “post-genre” approach threatens to rob the album of its cohesion – the jittery electronic pulse of “Second Survivor” in particular feels more like an alternative remix of a track we haven’t heard, rather than an organic extension of the rest of the record – but overall the trio’s ability to blend all these different shades and styles together in a way which, somehow, never sounds forced or artificial is remarkably impressive.
And nowhere else is this more impressive than during the album’s massive, multi-faceted title-track, whose aggressive Hardcore energy and gargantuan, sludgy grooves slowly but surely open up into something increasingly proggy and more melodic – while still retaining a hefty helping of metallic heaviness – right up until the point where the entire song deconstructs and rebuilds itself into the sort of sublimely sombre Post-Rock that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nordic Giants album, concluding with the sort of minimalist instrumental melody and haunting vocal harmony that really lets you know that this song has taken you on a journey.
Everything Under Heaven won’t be for everyone, that’s for certain – nor is it meant to be – but there’s definitely a certain type of person out there (including, as it turns out, yours truly) who will find the way that the album constantly seems to reinvent itself, without losing itself, so compelling that once they’ve started listening to it they just won’t be able to stop.