Nanda Devi / Skin Horse
posted on 10/2009 By:
Apterran Records offers up 30-minutes of sludge riddled post-metal with this split from a pair of American bands. Nanda Devi kicks off the proceedings with the expansive, eighteen minute “Lifelong Migration,” which thankfully avoids the oversaturated brand of melody used in typical post-metal, instead offering sparse and punishing meditations more in line with Neurosis and the short-lived and terribly underrated Abandon. Sure the tremolo guitar lines that dominate the first half of the composition are indeed plenty melodic, but in a much more truly melancholy way, as opposed to the either ebullient or shoegazing fodder often heard in this style. Rather than soaring through lush atmospherics Nanda Devi haunt more terrestrial, dark human territories, and this song is defined by its punishing nature delivered via viscous riffing, heavy handed percussive rhythms, and unrelenting mood. True to genre form, the song ebbs and flows to and from loud and aggressive turns, but even at its lowest points in this cycle maintains a menacing tone.
San Francisco’s Skin Horse’s “109" clocks in at nearly fourteen minutes. The most interesting thing about its inclusion is its nontraditional and disjointed trajectory. Beginning like a standard and passable if uninspiring post-metal track, the song then suddenly shifts into tumbling riffs and insistent, propulsive drumming. But at the midway point the band grinds gears and slows into a lurching sludge, and when vocals are finally introduced they’re layers of pained howls and gruff bellows, temporarily erasing any last vestiges of post-metal. Thing is, Skin Horse doesn’t sit still for long, and as soon it feels like the track has finally gotten where it was going all along, the band shifts yet again, into sparse melody and swirling atmosphere a la Neurosis. Normally this kind of disjointed song development would be a negative, but in this case it at least raises an eyebrow as a contrast to what has become a very dry and predictable genre.
While failing to shake me out of my post-metal malaise, this split does offer something just a little different than the usual fare. Both bands do enough to warrant a look, although I preferred Nanda Devi’s style more than Skin Horse’s cut and paste attack.
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