This is the second album by the Chicago "black metal " band. The first song will make you believe they conjure up a pretty dark and dismal brand of black metal that simmers as much as it seethes. The drugged dissonance in their guitar tone frequents some very angular places. The vocals while raspy come closer to having a dsbm style anguish to them. This is the only time on the album they adhere to this sounds. The rest of the journey is much more proggy. These guys are pretty adventurous when it comes to the twists and turns on composition. Though they are not too over indulgent in this keeping the song writing concise and for the most part around 6 minutes, with two epics at 9 and 11 minutes.
They shift gears with ease coming to a place that sounds more like "Souls at Zero" era Neurosis on "Bull of Crete" this is coating with an eerie guitar melody. The chorus finds clean vocals crooning , but set back far enough into the music where it doesn't diminish, the artful ugliness the band is creating. The drummer at times reminds me of the drummer from Russian Circles.
The epic "Al-Malik" is not unlike something Sigh would pull off , though in some ways the chaotic nature of the song reminds me a little of Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum. Here they are much more progressive than black metal, in fact it's more prog with a sludge like grime to it. Brilliant in it's execution if this type of excess is not normally in your diet it might be hard to digest.The more delicate touch of "Recuerodos" has a more 70's prog feel, think Emerson Lake and Palmer or Animals era Pink Floyd . There is great guitar playing here , but this song feels more like an interlude to me.
The first installment of the "Zeta 2 Reticuli" wind up at a sludge like pace for three minutes before the shouted vocal chime in. Fans of old Mastodon will appreciate this song . The part two is a tighter jazz swing, that would not sound out of place on a Tomahawk album.More hints of their dissonant black metal past bubble up on "Yellow King".
At it's heart this is much more of a prog album than any other metal subgenre, so the clean vocals that dominate " When Blood Leaves" is no surprise. I'm all for melody and actual singing in metal, however I think the more black metal approach works best for the band , rather than the other vocals colors employed such as the more throaty shout or this kind of post-rock monotone croon. The cover of "Larks' Tongue in Aspic" while an admirable task to tackle a King Crimson song, is a little redundant as they have already made that influence crystal clear.