The Darkest of Grays/Solicit to Fall
posted on 6/2011 By:
First off, thank you, Southern Lord, for re-releasing 2010’s The Darkest of Grays & 2011’s Solicit to Fall together on a single recording. This the first time this material has been made available on CD, which is a definitive step away from hipster vinyl consumerism and a movement in the right direction. A band like Planks is far too excellent to be denied this kind of accessibility.
Planks is a vastly underrated, deeply awesome, self-described “gloom core” band from Germany. The ‘gloom’ and ‘core’ influences are obvious throughout their music, but there are also strong elements of crust, melodic, and black metal that truly push the definition of the hardcore genre. The result is a multi-faceted and dynamically varied sound that has impressive potential.
The band has an experimental vibe as well, through their inclusion of two brief tracks of narration. Unfortunately, this comes off as a bit manufactured and potentially unnecessary, as they consist of a woman’s eerily calm voice speaking about soulless eyes and things that exist but cannot be seen. The whole “perception” theme has been used and abused by many bands, and in this case it does not make the album any more compelling.
Besides the two somewhat contrived narrative tracks, there are few flaws to be found. The songwriting is versatile and emotionally resonant, and the production is also commendable. Planks positions the bass high in the mix, but never to the album’s detriment. If anything, it furthers the depth and heaviness of the already crushing mix of guitars and furious vocals. “Tentacles (Solitude Prevails)” is a track with a hissing, dense atmosphere that radiates aggression, but it also contains more subdued moments that lend themselves to showcasing the song’s overall power.
“We Are Transluscent” is a beautiful two-minute reprieve from brutality, combining clean, echoing, guitar sound with simple composition. The result is poignant, emotional, and a clear indication of Planks’ songwriting flexibility. The album spans sixteen tracks, but never loses momentum. Their use of repetition serves to strengthen each song’s development, not to beat themes into the ground. The Darkest of Grays/Solicit to Fall is a seamless combination of two albums, and undoubtedly a release worth listening to.
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