It has been quite a year already for beautiful releases within the realm of droning, doom-gazing post-metal. Denver’s Palehorse/Palerider unleashed their killer debut Burial Songs early on, and then Charlotte veterans From Oceans To Autumn followed with the bar-setting double album Ether/Return To Earth in early May.
In other news, an intriguing scene has been building out in the Philippines which, to this point, has been populated largely by math-rock/Midwestern emo-influenced artists like tide/edit, Tom’s Story and Run Dorothy. And now, these two seemingly disparate paths cross spectacularly in the form of Quezon City’s Sound Architects. In Time of Need is their first full-length after a series of single track releases and short EP’s. It offers an entrancing collection of songs that have further solidified my already re-invigorated love for this brand of post-metal stylings.
RELEASE DATE: 03 June 2017 LABEL: Sleeping Boy Collective
“Amihan” kicks the record off in a fashion that seems at first familiar, but within two minutes it becomes very clear that this is going to be something much more than the average release. The electronic flourishes that augment the early moments of the track’s extended final passage bait a love of groove buried deep inside me and usually reserved for the finest trip-hop artists.
However, it is when the full band bursts back into the mix that the rewards truly begin to flow forth. The decision to allow this section to breath and grow over the course of six minutes proves to be sage indeed. It is a rare thing to be able to say that a song that leans heavily into doom-gazing could inspire an enthralling impetus to lose oneself in dance, so in these intoxicating moments Sound Architects have come upon a uniquely special ability. What’s most impressive is “Amihan”’s malleability. It works entirely, and in so many contexts – again, it’s startlingly danceable, but also rocks for the post-metal crowd and inspires emotional engagement for the shoegazers. If a hip-hop artist were to flow over top of “Amihan”’s second half, I guarantee it would make sense. As unlikely a scenario as it may be, I am now determined to witness this song performed in a live setting, as it has all the makings of a signature track.
Difficult as it may be to follow this stunner of an opener, In Time of Need continues to hit most of its marks. “Seismos” takes a more traditional post-metal approach, unleashing a more pointed, riff-oriented sound, an effective counterpoint to the simple but richly-crafted textures of “Amihan.” This track also highlights Sound Architects’ already well-formed ability to vacillate between roaring guitars and quieter, more melodic passages, though it should be said that the focus, particularly at both the beginning and end are firmly on rocking.
“Icarus” follows with another stretch of measured build, until eventually rewarding patient listeners with a weighty, explosive riff worthy of the best post-hardcore has to offer. This leads into a cacophony of bass-enveloped uproar supplemented by pleasingly under-emphasized guitar melodies that are forced to fight their way through the chaos in order to make an impact. It’s as if the band is joyfully challenging listeners to find the beauty within the cracks of this wall of punishing sound and dense grooves – a challenge I found myself more than willing to face.
In Time of Need transitions to its second half with “Omens,” an almost Badalamenti-echoing piece with restrained, vaguely-jazzy drum work complementing fuzzed-out bass tones and minimalist guitar touches, providing a welcome detour from the sheer, voluminous power of the previous tracks. If there is one misstep on the album, I would say it lies with the slowly-unfolding, droning “1972,” which is the least engaging track of the six. Particularly following “Omens,” which acts as more of an atmosphere piece complementing the surrounding tracks, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to position a song that unfolds so cautiously over the course of seven-plus minutes, before finally opening the soundscape only slightly wider for its final three. It’s a track that could have used one segment that truly pushed the listener into some more challenging, or at least crushing territory.
That being said, “Mabaya” concludes In Time of Need in class fashion. In particular, the shift in tone at the 5:30 mark leads what began as a moody metal riff into epic, uplifting territories that carry through to the end – a deft twist on what one may have expected prior to that moment. This stirring conclusion provides a strong anchor at the album’s back end, and leaves the listener excited to further discover what this band is capable of. In Time of Need unquestionably soars on the wings of its fantastic opening track, but allow it to continue casting its spell and you will find there is plenty more magic to be found as you peel back the layers.
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