Band: The Dark Third | Album: Even As the Light Grows | Year: 2018 | Genre: Post rock, Progressive rock, Post metal
From: Auckland, New Zealand | Label: Sony BMG
For fans of: Pure Reason Revolution, Alcest
I was surprised at just how much I liked this album. It’s a very strong debut outing, and I’m very interested to see what this New Zealand quintet will do in the future. The Dark Third use atmosphere as an instrument unto itself, and there’s a nice balance of loud and soft elements.
The opening epic begins with a wall of distorted guitar which transitions into an impressive instrumental exercise. Guitar lines soar over complex rhythms, only to be overtaken by majestic violins. Hints of blackgaze (black metal shoegaze) show up momentarily, but they’re soon replaced by the melancholy verse. Broad guitar arpeggios complement the vocals, which sound like they’re adrift in space. Near the 8-minute mark, the song becomes a quiet acoustic piece, led by piano and folk-inflected guitar patterns. This shift leads back to the earlier bombast to close the song out.
“These Things Are Not Inherent” is my personal favorite track here. It opens with a tom-heavy drum pattern, and ominous piano and
synthesizer baritone sax (thanks to the band for pointing that out!) drones add weight to the vocal performance. The song builds steadily, adding in the genre’s characteristic huge guitars. The lyrics, while not great, address self-doubt and despair, and they match the bleak tone of the music.
Not everything on this album is great. “Erewhon” does nothing to stand out. It gets bogged down by a lot of post-rock’s worst tendencies. The instrumental elements are not noteworthy, and the vocals get buried in mix. The inclusion of a blackgaze closing is fairly well done, but it doesn’t make up for the weakness of the rest of the song.
“The Regressor” is thankfully an improvement over the preceding track. It’s a bit slow to get going, but that slow start pays off, in that it makes the song’s eventual escalation more impactful. Some of the vocals here fail to stand out, again getting lost in the mix, but the instrumental parts more than make up for it. The guitar solo pierces through the fuzzy, indistinct wall of rhythm guitar beautifully, and the outro is the best example of the band’s attempts to play metal.
Generally speaking, the genre prefix “post-“ serves more as a warning than a welcome sign to me. I find a lot of post-rock and post-metal bands to be an interminably dull series of crescendi that don’t seem to actually go anywhere. Needless to say, I was relieved to have my expectations proven wrong here.
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