In the two-plus years since their stirring debut Mons, Montreal post-rock outfit Appalaches has undergone a tidal shift in their construction, beginning with the separate departures of both their founding guitarist and their drummer. Rather than “go small,” so to speak, the band has opened up to an even more expansive and dynamic sound, not only replacing the two missing pieces, but also adding a third guitarist. This extra layer has served them well, and according to remaining original guitarist Mathieu Salvail, their chemistry is at an all-time high. They settled into the Hotel2Tango studio in the Mile End district of their hometown during this past year to record their sophomore release Cycles, an album which Salvail claims has pushed the band into more complex songwriting, but also instilled in them a mindset which values raw, occasionally imperfect, unadulterated beauty. Arctic Drones is pleased to debut “Milsai,” the lead single from this new record.
On “Milsai,” Appalaches exhibits patience and precision in allowing their composition to unfold, confident in the knowledge of the heights to which they will eventually ascend. The twelve-minute track begins somewhat ominously with deliberately-paced overlapping picked guitars, eventually giving way to a somber melody that carries the song through its first half. The measured introduction of “Milsai”’s first proper riffing creates a shift in tone however, but still only partially indulges listeners a look toward the dramatic climax to follow. The way the track transitions between melancholy tones and triumphant crescendos shines light on a level of maturity that is certainly exciting to see any collection of artists attain. It all comes together during the final two minutes, and it is in these moments that Appalaches truly scale the top of the mountain and stand exalted, looking beyond their previous accomplishments to what victories lie on the horizon. It’s the kind of finale that can make you feel heroic, even if you are simply sitting in your bedroom or listening in your car. It is of course very early still, but if there is a more towering, epic conclusion to emerge from post-rock during the remainder of the year, then it will have been a successful 2017 indeed.
Cycles releases on March 25th, but you can download “Milsai” for free as part of A Thousand Arms’ Hemispheres, Vol. 1 comp, which will be available in full January 20th on BandCamp.