Released: 2015, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
This Chicago area collective had been churning out their self-described “psychedelic metal” for the better part of a decade before suddenly going quiet for a six-year stretch following 2009's With Echoes in the Movement of Stone. But they are back with a vengeance with their fourth album, The Crash & The Draw, continuing to challenge convention with their unique take on metal/post-metal.
Things certainly aren't quiet anymore. Indeed the band really outdo themselves here with this massive, sprawling, tumultuous effort full of butt-clenching twists and turns and psych-ward worthy swings of mood. It's best taken as a whole, so prepare yourselves for the long haul, because it is quite an epic journey - a good 75 minutes worth.
The eleven tracks here aren't so much songs as they are movements in some grand dissonant symphony – indeed “Onward Procession” is broken into four separate pieces spread over 20-some minutes. The album's ebb and flow is a testament to the band's dynamic range and the sheer scope is nothing short of staggering.
The nearly 13-minute opening track “To The Initiate” weaves itself around long ethereal passages and jarring fits of bombast. “Within And Without” slowly meanders and builds to a thunderous crescendo capped by Christopher Bennett's cathartic roar. “Onward Procession III: The Blue Hour” is meditative and chanty with an electronic throb as a background that segues into the equally hypnotic first half of “Onwards” closing segment - ”IV. Return, The Heir” - before devolving into a din of buzz-sawing bass, crashing riffs and more of Bennett's leonine vocals.
The wispy keyboard interlude “Conjunction” leads into the initially serene “The Way Is Through” gives way to sludgy midsection before concluding with Kevin Rendleman's turbulent drumming and a shrill shriek of guitar psychedelia. “To You There Is No End” is essentially a tribal drum solo draped in haunting electronic effects with the percussion then forming the basis of “To The Garish Remembrance of Failure.”
So there is plenty of subtle connective tissue throughout the album that all but commands a start-to-finish listen. Each song is a logical progression in a greater whole and despite the intimidating length, the music is more than captivating and engrossing enough to justify your time.