A Somber Wind From A Distant Shore
posted on 9/2009 By:
I think there’s something to be said for provocative music that gives off two distinctly differing and repelling vibes. Perhaps there’s a recognizable amount of successful artistic intent in the ability to both stimulate and genuinely discomfort the listener, but the problem lies directly with the fact that each opposing force is given equal amount of spotlight time, cancelling each other out in the process. A Somber Wind From A Distant Shore is slightly heartbreaking on a couple of different levels because of this oddly-balanced aesthetic with the Moribund debut from Plymouth, Minnesota’s Canis Dirus, and I can see it creating a wide variety of varying opinions among the black metal crowd.
First off, Canis Dirus is a USBM duo who only have initials for names (RH / vocals, TMP / instrumentation), and they look like two normal dudes you’d see at a Twins game on any given weekend, yet they portray themselves with an individualistic confidence that borders on sardonic arrogance. Usually, such “we’re so disinterested in being accepted, we don't care if people understand us” condescension is reserved for those who already know they kind of suck to begin with, and are cutting off the critical troops at the pass. However, these guys don’t come across as being especially defensive or sensitive, instead appearing to already be so bored with people in general, that other peoples opinions are useless to them in just about every aspect of their lives. Listening to A Somber Wind…it’s easy to see why they (want to) come across as so dismissive of people in that Wolves In The Throne Room kind of way, being lovers of nature and all, but the comparisons to the superior Wolves’ stops dead right there.
Drawn out, thinly produced, and allergic to any form of bottom end, this is a very “bright” album from the start. Definitely more focused on wispy guitars, secondary percussion, and birdlike male vocals inspired by Burzum, don’t expect the bombastic rage of Averse Sefira, Krallice, or Wolves’. The acoustic moments are gracefully and tastefully arranged, aligning with soulful solos that have a 70’s Hendrix lean on “Joyless And The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”. Aggression finally erupts during the beginning of “In The Season Of The Shadows”, but unfortunately most of the drums disappear in the process in a blur of white tremolo noise, before falling back into the midpaced dirge that had dominated up to that point. There’s not much shift in general tempo, sticking faithfully to a head-noddling drawl that never gets the blood pumping very hard, and while not exactly brilliant or internally diverse, it manages to somehow avoid being utterly pedestrian. There’s no funeral procession going on, but you won’t hear a wall of aural blasphemy either.
A passing comparison to Xasthur is a little misleading, and usually I can overlook comically delivered vocals, but whichever one of these dudes is the singer, to hear that girlish, in-the-process-of-being-raped voice come warbling out of either of them would be shocking to behold in the flesh. If you’re the kind of listener who is indifferent to vocals, then you’ll have no problem with the yodeling feline style of howling RH strains forth. As for me, the extreme lack of vocal strength, even in the attempted parched and tortured sense, does little but hinder the effectiveness of the music overall by pursuing such a shrill and grating delivery, although I do respect their avoidance of reverb or overdone enhancements where that’s concerned.
That’s pretty much the gist of it. The music locks immediately into one mood and stays there, neither sounding very depressed, exuberant, or mournful at any point despite being well-performed. Canis Dirus is quite one-dimensional, which may have been their goal, so perhaps I’m one of those people who just doesn’t get them, but a more powerful vocal delivery (but not necessarily a different technique)really could have made a world of difference, since the music really shines here and there even with the limited range of motion and depth. If you’d be interested in a less suicidal version of Xasthur, then A Somber Wind From A Distant Shore might be a worthy addition to your collection, especially if vocals of a highly acquired taste are what piques your curiosity. They're peculiar, but I hope they're capable of doing more in the future.
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