posted on 7/2006 By:
More moody post-metal, this time from North Carolina’s Giant. Song is a sneaky little bastard, as after nearly ten spins I was ready to dismiss this album as decent but very much unremarkable post-metal. Even early on it had its moments, but they seemed to be sandwiched between long stretches of faceless, vanilla stylings. But I’m notoriously slow about making up my mind, and I stuck with Song for another handful of listens. The album eventually broke through for me, and as is sometimes the case, some of the issues about which I had reservations have turned out to be a significant part of Song’s allure.
The five tracks that comprise the fifty-two minute Song are all variations on a downcast, gloomy brand of post-metal, but possess a satisfying if subtle variety. Beginning with obvious, the songs vary greatly in length, with twelve and fourteen minute tracks (“The Red Opus” and “The Shallow”) contrasting shorter efforts ranging from six to nine minutes (“Stories” and “Calvin”). More to the point though, the band employs different tactics to paint in varying shades of a consistent mood. This gives the album a flow that keeps the album interesting. Opener “Stories” is built on an unusually full and sullen riffing that provides a depressive-rock foundation for the expected but highly competent gruff, shouted vocals. The band follows this opening shot with a turn toward Isis, with the longer and more varied “Calvin” and “The Red Opus’, which use the typical ebb and flow dynamics of spacious buildups and noisy crescendos. “The Red Opus”, which sits directly in the center of the album, is probably the pick of the bunch. It’s the second longest track on the album, and fills that time well, using interesting buildups and some nice ethereal clean vocals and even some string programming to construct a thoughtful, somber vibe that’s every bit as intense as its countering “heavy” segments. The vocals on Song are damn solid; the gruff approach is what you’d expect, but the roar is well balanced and has just the right amount of the bite, and the clean vocals (used infrequently) add a nice depth.
“Life for the Vultures” is the most aggressive and heaviest of the tracks, using a Neurosis-like riff and insistent percussion. But it gives way to its opposite, in “The Shallow”. The marathon album closer is nearly fifteen-minutes long and uses a hypnotic, drone and gently circling guitar and key lines to build a slow burning intensity. It’s eleven and a half minutes before the introduction of vocals for the heaviest part of the song. The repetitive passages of this track and in parts of others are part of what I initially had trouble warming up to, but are now some of my favorite parts of the album. Song is the kind of album that is best heard with undivided attention, and the softer, sparse sections become downright enthralling at times. This genre is bogged down right now, and although Song isn’t in the same league with Cult of Luna’s Somewhere Along the Highway, it’s definitely in a tight race amongst a couple other albums for the runner-up spot.
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