posted on 3/2009 By:
Ireland’s Parhelia is one of those unsigned bands that continues to send us release after release, each of which earns a decidedly flattering review. So we keep expecting the next album to arrive with a well-earned record label logo displayed prominently on the back cover. I’m not sure what the hold up is for these guys–Parhelia’s work is every bit as good as the majority of label released material, and has the professional performance, production, and packaging suitable for a label effort. It is possible that the band has in fact chosen to remain independent, and I hope that’s the case, but that’s a rarity it seems. It could be that the problem is that Parhelia are a bit of a square peg in the metal market. Their brand of instrumental post-rock/metal leans pronouncedly toward the indie-rock side of the fence, which could make them a tough sale to much of the Metal Review faithful, but quality is quality, and Parhelia should find an audience on both the metal and indie sides of the post- world.
Parhelia's fourth offering comes after the group returned from a brief hiatus, and on Shifting Sands they return with another 35 minutes of well-executed and refined post-rock driven by mostly clean guitar and overall gentler tones. But don’t let that description lead you to believe that these songs are all slow, ethereal meanderings. The material here is mostly mid-tempo and effectively melodic. The songs are catchy enough that the lack of vocals doesn’t weigh them down, and the band does a good job building textured, interesting, and well-developed compositions that arc and shift, without leaning on the standard rise and fall dynamic tension. In fact, the lack of build up and crescendo is noticeable here. At opposite ends of the spectrum here are the title track, which takes a heavier approach with more immediacy and bite in the riffs, and "Perpetual Motion," which has an ebullient central melody that screams indie rock. Fans of later Isis, Pelican, Aerogramme, Tortoise and the like could do much worse than supporting this deserving independent band. Compliments also to the art layout by the reliably impressive Paul McCarroll, whose own Scald also deserve your attention.
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