Harbour of Devils
Completing the research for this review, it was evident from re-evaluation of the band's two earlier releases that ‘Harbour of Devils’ presents itself as an entirely different creature. What The Blood Revealed have retained the services of the same production team, however a personnel change and subsequent stability assists in adding a deeper dimension to the sound.
‘Embrace the Rational and Seek the Truthful’ immediately sees the band demonstrate a beautifully textured sound; non-linear and engaging, avoiding needless repetition. An almost playful anticipation builds, drawing you into the calm before the storm; post rock interludes are cast aside to make room for incoming monolithic riffs. There is no eloquence here: I wanted to take my t-shirt off and run into oncoming traffic.
In light of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelleher’s recent diminished ability to write a memorable riff; guitarists Stuart Teager and Scott Hamilton have gladly stepped up to the plate, exchanging the kind of sludge attack fit to grace any Mastodon album.
The clarity of the guitar tone is startling and unexpected; rich and full throughout the album, and it is evident that this is an ambitious and thoughtfully-constructed debut album. First single, ‘To Travel Deadly Ground’ builds on a measured and brooding introduction. A firm root is planted by rhythm section Alan Hayburn and Gav Lawrie, before a seismic guitar tumult breaks through the foundations.
An awareness of the band's Scottish roots should not encourage the listener to presume that there is an inclination to lean towards the established quiet / loud formula of Mogwai. The subtleties of the interludes and refrains appear to owe more of a debt of gratitude to bands such as Mono, or Jakob. The complex exchanges and guitar interplay, rooted by a tight yet fluid rhythm section reminiscent of latter-day output by The Ocean.
‘The Streets Ran Red with The Blood of The Pious’ is the stand-out track here; a complicated journey in itself. Led by powerful and driving guitar, the ebbs and flows serve as both transitional passage, and as a method of increasing the emotional impact of each composition. This album demands you invest in some good quality headphones.
Instrumental acts in this vein have recently gained short shrift; immediately pigeonholed with contemporaries in the field, such as Pelican or Russian Circles. Unfair assumptions lead to simple and frankly lazy comparisons; quickly nullified when introduced to an album with the depth and grandeur of ‘Harbour of Devils’. This is a truly immersive experience, one which continues to grow with each listen.
Posted: Tue 13 March 2012