Sunday, November 6, 2011

Album Review: Beneath Oblivion - From Man To Dust

Album Rating: A+
When I said that the Mylene Sheath would have a successful year, I wasn't too far off, and the new Beneath Oblivion record really enforces the point. From Man To Dust is an extremely power record in post-metal, combining Agalloch's black-metal exploration with Grief's eternal hate, topped off with a strong dosage of Zoroaster-esque heaviness. For one who doesn't have a reference of any of those bands, if I were to make a comparison between Beneath Oblivion and Russian Circles, the former makes up in sheer intensity what it lacks in Russian Circles' technicality. This record is an immovable object, an emotional exploration of a post-apocalyptic world that will stand the test of time.

"Intro" and "Atomic Mother" probably shouldn't have been designated as two separate tracks, but I suppose the producers thought it would have been crazy to have two 15+ minute odysseys on the same record. Either way, "Intro" does a fantastic job of setting the stage for the rest of the record: it exemplifies the state of mind that the band desired the album to take on, using harsh, simplistic chords to bring on a minimalistic, narrow-minded feeling of rage, with Scott Simpson's voice shredding the air above his and Allan Lee Scott's guitars, riffing with earth-shattering effectiveness.

The two-part anthem moves into "Hope, the Deceiver", which sets up with warm, apathetic synths, and then obliterates those tones with a cruel guitar-line and an oppressive drum beat that saps away any persisting optimism more and more with every time Nate Bidwell slams down onto the snare. The two guitars set up the dirtiest dual-harmony around two minutes in, and the heart-wrenching sadness from the last chord in the verse is almost too much to bear, as Simpson screams with an eternal agony above it. Just as one thinks the riff will never end, it starts to fade away, and a reflective acoustic bridge creates a thoughtful gap between the parts of the verse, which continues on again after the bridge, and continues to persist throughout the rest of the song, in some parts clean, but ultimately in a distorted pessimistic depression that hurts so good.

If I were to keep discussing this record at length, you'd be reading this for days, so let me sum up: If you're looking for soul-dispersing, gut-pounding emotion, you can find it in abundance on this record. Beneath Oblivion delivers a top-notch performance that remains nigh flawless. It creates an air that exudes only misery, and allows you to do nothing but wallow in that state for 75 minutes. It is a painful, wonderful listen that can only really be appreciated by listening to the record. Beneath Oblivion is a name that will be remembered long after they're gone, much like their subject matter on the record, and this album is a testament to that.

You can listen to the whole thing on Bandcamp, for free.

1) Intro
2) Atomic Mother
3) Hope, The Deceiver
4) Concussions of the Head and Heart
5) Empire
6) Barren Earth
7) Be My Destroyer
8) From Man To Dust

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