Pelagic Records offered us a more than appropriate way to start the New Year on an explosive note. After the transcendental split MONO/The Ocean, a new addition to their “Pelagic Split Series” this time featuring post-metal legends Cult of Luna (their first release after the year-long hiatus) and “The Ocean-side-rib”, The Old Wind (an outfit featuring current and past members of The Ocean and Breach). The new addition, titled Råångest contains 3 tracks: a cover of Amebix’s “Last Will and Testament” by Cult of Luna, and two new songs from The Old Wind.
For 2015 the label operated by The Ocean’s mastermind, Robin Staps, has released a series of split EPs to showcase several of the label’s powerhouses, hopefully in preparation of what’s about to come in the new year. Regardless of any speculation about the future of said bands, this series offers some tasty new material from artists we all love, which in all fairness is always a good thing. The EP is unsurprisingly “split” into two parts, so let’s analyse them separately.
RELEASE DATE: 29 January 2016 LABEL: Pelagic Records
Cult of Luna set the tone of the EP with their first release in 3 years. Given that their contribution is merely a cover, it’s too early to get hyped about the post-metal’s masters return, but at least gives us an opportunity to evaluate the current health status of the Umea septet. If anything, the song offers the chance to see how Cult of Luna infuse their essence into a foreign creation. And boy let me tell you, do they do that well! If it’s true that the song is simply a cover, it’s as true that the song could very well pass as the band’s newest single.
Their re-elaboration of Amebix’s 1987 single follows the same path marked in 2013 with the Vertikal series, that mixture of aggressive and cathartic moments that only a controlled use of walls of layered guitars and vocals, atmospheric melodic patterns and pure electronic experimentation can offer. The 6-minute long track gives Cult of Luna more than enough room to switch back and forth from pure “sludgeness” to atmospheric crescendos and experiment with keyboards and synthesizers. Any real judgement on the state of the band will have to be postponed to their next release, but for now this is just what we wanted: a proof on the form of the band. Promoted with flying colours.
And now to side B of “Raw Anxiety” (English for “Råångest”). The Old Wind is an atmospheric sludge metal quintet comprised by current and past members of The Ocean. The two songs on the EP add new material to the already consistent band’s discography (one full-length and two EPs in three years) and offer the renewed opportunity to witness the band’s take on atmospheric sludge metal. A river detached from the creative whole of that melody-infused metal sea that The Ocean is, featuring Tomas Liljedahl (ex The Ocean, now Breach) on vocals and Robin Staps (The Ocean) on guitars, The Old Wind have a more than clear idea of what and how their music should sound like, and there’s very little we can add to it.
Making no compromises and taking very little risk, the quintet comfortably showcases their musical formula, comfortably jumping from pure aggression to filthy atmospheric sections. There’s very little time to breath in between the songs as they follow the same vein of untamed, raw, and abrasive combination of sludge, punk, and doom sounds. All of which is embellished by great production work (as it was for CoL btw), which allows every instrument in taking their part in enhancing the overall abrasiveness of the duo. Those who long for the “Aeolian”-era The Ocean will rejoice at the explosive whirlwind generated by “Wooden Scythe” and “Daughters of Cleanse”. The Old Wind in a way then look (and sound) like Staps’ desire to still produce aggressive atmospheric music outside of the languid waters on which The Ocean prevalently sail at the moment. With the risk of repeating myself: this a band comprised of very navigated musicians with a very clear idea of what kind of music they want to make. Zero space for compromises, take it or leave it.
Clocking out at little less than 20 minutes Råångest offers an exciting quarter hour in company of two important names in the post-metal universe; one upcoming and the other firmly established. If Cult of Luna need no introductions and their return to form certainly constitutes the highlight of the release, The Old Wind on their side, offer an extremely valid and entertaining contribution to the split, and the genre as a whole. The future of post-metal is in good hands. If you’re a fan of this kind of sonorities then look no further. Råångest will keep you entertained until the core of the next year, maybe while you hopefully wait for both bands to drop a new full-length. But for now, this will do just fine.