Normally when I review albums , what you are getting is my first reactions after pressing play. Occasionally this means going back and replaying a track that I had not paid close enough attention to on first listen or needed more time to wrap my head around. That is not the case with this album. I have listened to this one at least a half dozen times before I pattered upon my laptop keys. The fact it has gotten such heavy rotation at this time of the year speaks loudly for the quality of what is going down with this band. After all by the end of October since I am to go to Goth Guy for many blogs I write for I am neck deep trying to play catch up as well as find albums I might have missed going into November when the end of the year list madness starts. Yet this album demands my ear.
At first you think ...ok this is a sludge album with a great deal of post rock atmosphere, not an uncommon sub-genre these days. While that might be in play on the opener, there is a great deal of powerful heaviness that hits you outside the sonic scope of sludge. Angular twists and turns as well as sections that pound at you like an angry hard core band, or I suppose screamo since that tends to blend it's sonic texture more in this direction. The scathing scream of the vocals meets some where between black metal and screamo. When the kind of spastic chaos is expressed in say grind core the results are more abrasive. Here everything flows very smoothly. That is not to say they are not at times hyper aggressive. This is a very heavy album , just heavy sonically. It falls out side the meaty chugs and blast beats most of the bands we cover here deal in, yet I am sure Islander will agree my niche here is bringing bands on the fringe of metal into the spotlight.
Sometimes they linger on noise and ambiance, but even in the cinematic simmer of the instrumental "Godless Night " this kind of drone never feels like a waste of time. They are great at giving space to the guitars allowing for rather chilling crystal clear melodies closer to post-rock. For every song like this there is one like the title track that has a more deliberate spine they almost groove with. With this song however there are ghostly some what sung vocals that glide over the foreboding with a Jesu like touch. This lays the ground work for more explosive dynamics. The vocals even drop down into a convincing death metal guttural. "Doppler" is a more angry outburst tempered by the guitars. They are capable of a more straight forward metal chug as evident on "Among the Stars" . They will not just settle for a big hooky riff as they paint bursts of sonic frenzy around it. They also pick up the pace with the snarl of "True North" .
The album closes with the more sedate "At Long Last" which has softer vocals , not a whisper and not a crooner , kind of a sleepy moan. It builds from a lullaby, but soars off in the distance. Not for every one here, and if you have no tolerance for atmosphere you are not going to be a fan. However it is a very rewarding journey for those who like things that are at times introspective and sonically intense when they cut loose. Enough teeth to this album to consider it metal for sure and I suppose if you need a sub genre to tie it to atmospheric sludge works , they are just coming at it from a different angle. I will round this up to a 10.