posted on 11/2009 By:
Instrumental space-rock unit SubArachnoid Space returns with their ninth full-length of grooving, crashing, fx-laden psychedelia. From the opening cascade of "Lilith," with its snaky bassline beneath twisting drums and swirling guitars, the band’s sound is established—ethereal and progressive and textural, moving further towards metallic heft with recent releases, but still far more trippy and acid-indebted than anything approaching metal’s usual descriptors like "agonized" or "crushing."
Where SubArachnoid Space moves to the head of the space-rock pack is in the balance between the two fundamental components of that genre—as trippy as Eight Bells is, it does not forget to rock. And when it rocks, it rocks surprisingly hard, especially so now that the band is tempering their dreamy trance-inducing jams with moments of more intense riffage. To witness the balance, take closing track "Bird Songs," for example, with its driving beat and rolling bass beneath hypnotic guitar chords, all building to a stomping coda riff that’s soaked in hazy harmonies that make it more psychotropic and dreamy than heavy. Balance that rock-solid ending tune against the extended squalling of "Hunter Seeker" or the calamitous "Haruspex," the album’s noisiest and most experimental moment as well as one of its most intriguing…
I can’t say that SubArachnoid Space is my new favorite band by any stretch, but I am impressed. Eight Bells is capable of holding my attention across its six tracks and thirty-eight minutes, a feat that many of its atmospheric peers cannot claim. Fans of the psychedelic/progressive side of things (think some of Porcupine Tree’s trippier instrumental moments) and fans of the over-saturated post-rock sub-genre will find Eight Bells to be one of the style’s better records of late and a welcome addition to their collection – not as challenging a release as some, nor particularly groundbreaking, but listenable and very enjoyable nonetheless.
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