Rating:
8.3
Blindead - Absence
9 October 2013


01. a3
02. b6
03. s1
04. e5
05. n4
06. c7
07. e2
08. a7bsence


This year I've been convinced that some Polish metal musicians and their associates must also be wizards. The latest major releases from Riverside and, in this case, Blindead display excellence of production values which I can only describe as something magical or seemingly impossible, as both these bands recordings have come to us in an impeccable packaging of sound. The quality here is superb.

The thing fans will note first of all about Absence is that it is a significant change in the band's metal path. As I've discovered from listening to their music, attempting to pin down the sound of Blindead to one particular genre is not an easy task. Such is a clear mark of the band's ingenuity; an album like Absence "genre-hops" from post-metal, progressive metal, doom metal and alternative metal in such a way that it makes it increasingly difficult for me, the listener, to place as a collective whole. But what's most important is that it works; its flowing sequences are uninhibited by all this genre blurring and so smoothly are all of its layers aligned that all of these concerns fly out of the window in a whirlwind of emotions.

For a band that takes this approach and aims to write such emotionally tangible music, a change of face or an alteration of sound can be a disconcerting experience. Such is to threaten lost connections and an uncomfortable unfamiliarity to a fan's eager ear as we come to hold certain expectations which might leave us wanting when a band veers off in an unexpected direction.

The previous poignant instalment of sound in Affliction XXIX II MXMVI was a punishing and absorbing kind of post doom metal, which can also be described as a rather progressive rendition of a doom and sludge metal mix with its challenging theme bolstered by the scarring impression of the music itself. I suppose the best way to describe the change witnessed with this new album is a move away from the clearly expressed abrasiveness of the past to something deliberately acclimatising but no less thought provoking. Absence may be something brand new altogether, however it is brought to you by the same familiar face of Blindead, only this time behind such a face lies fresh and alternative thoughts.

This is a face that exudes a confidence of expression; no matter which thoughts they may be having you can rest assured that these very thoughts, once put into music, will speak of a mature and developed sound. So what exactly are Blindead thinking with their new effort? While I'm not psychic I think it's pretty clear that they are opting for a more widely appreciable sound; something guaranteed to catch the attention of a broader variety of musical tastes than ever before.

But it would be foolish to suggest that they are selling their souls with Absence. While the sound is softer and lacks the prior dense and intense impressions of doom, it absorbs the listener with its multiple and cooperative components. The music flows at once through varied contours as each of its layers of electronic and atmospheric sound effects, brass and string instruments, intertwining guitar lines and throbbing press of drums and additional percussion work to support one feature in particular, the vocals. Zwoliński takes a cleaner and less aggressive approach with his delivery here and such a stance makes his presence a clear focal point throughout the album. In equal measure his temperament often reminds me of Katatonia's Jonas Renkse and the aforementioned Riverside's Mariusz Duda, stylistically though he is his own man.

Noticeably the post-metal to this album comes in stints; tracks like "n4" opening in an industrial traverse before reaching softer post-rock regions, and the metallic edge presses through the melodic "e2." Clear marks of the post-metal genre are left, but they take form within an album which at its surface seems to only fleetingly borrow into said genre and its rhythms and tempos are identifiable with alternative metal and the likes of Tool more-so than, say, Cult Of Luna.

Absence is undoubtedly Blindead's most accomplished record in terms of production and the quality of composition holds strong. The change in sound is at once refreshing as much as it is challenging to the expectations of fans, but I'll leave that to their discretion. For those unfamiliar with the band's discography, this new album represents the best point of entry.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 10


Band profile: Blindead
Album: Absence


 



Written on 29.12.2013 by
R'Vannith
R'Vannith enjoys music, he's hoping you do too.
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BloodTears - 29.12.2013 at 13:37  
This is a very interesting album. Never listened to the band before but when Momo recommend it, I had a feeling I would like it.

One of the best albums I listened to this year. Poland certainly does produce some good metal.
Góral - 29.12.2013 at 14:48  
Written by BloodTears on 29.12.2013 at 13:37

Poland certainly does produce some good metal.

Agreed. It was a really crazy year of experimental/prog/post metal on the Polish music scene and "Absence" certainly has a part in this craziness. In my personal feelings, "Absence" is pushed into the background by such gems as "Mother Void" by Obscure Sphinx, "Alpha Orionis" by Tenebris, Tides From Nebula's "Eternal Movement" or mentioned in the review "Shrine of New Generation Slaves" by Riverside. However, this is a good stuff, which should be on each reasonable list of the "Top 10 Polish prog/post metal releases '13".
Pazdzioch - 29.12.2013 at 14:49  
It was a huge disappointing release and these words come from the biggest fanboy out there.

PS. The yelling dude's called Zwoliński not Zwolinksi. Be kind enough and fix it in 6th paragraph
Góral - 29.12.2013 at 15:13  
Written by Pazdzioch on 29.12.2013 at 14:49

It was a huge disappointing release and these words come from the biggest fanboy out there.

Disappointment is certainly (I mean such fanboys their earlier releases, like us), but looking objectively - it's a good prog/alternative album Paz. Even if you don't like such direction, I think you should to appreciate this album in this category.
R'Vannith - 29.12.2013 at 16:21  
Written by Pazdzioch on 29.12.2013 at 14:49

PS. The yelling dude's called Zwoliński not Zwolinksi. Be kind enough and fix it in 6th paragraph


That's been corrected now, thanks for pointing that out.
R'Vannith - 29.12.2013 at 16:26  
Written by Góral on 29.12.2013 at 14:48

Tides From Nebula's "Eternal Movement"


I enjoy this band's music as well, though I've yet to hear their new one. I'm also in agreement about Obscure Sphinx, they put out a very intriguing album this year.
tea[m]ster - 29.12.2013 at 19:19  
Wow, where to begin. First off, thanks for the review. It's the best you've ever written because you listened to other fellow MS'ers opinions about this album and freelanced about their feelings on how the "new" sound has affected them positively or negatively. Also, a great point about the production. The sound clearly has a major-label feel to it and it sounds like Blindead has been "Riversided". It's a great thing and a monumental stepping stone for the band. I cannot wait to see them ascend further.

Also, for you other Polish metal fans, Entropia's Vesper is a huge album too.
Góral - 29.12.2013 at 20:31  
Written by tea[m]ster on 29.12.2013 at 19:19

Also, for you other Polish metal fans, Entropia's Vesper is a huge album too.

Excellent stuff, though dethroned in my ears by Mord'A'Stigmata's "Ansia" (post bm, also from Poland). Take this opportunity I also highly recommended.
Divergenceless - 30.12.2013 at 00:40  
A very intelligent and well articulated, fair review of a very divisive album. As tea[m]ster mentioned, this is probably the best review you've ever done and your consideration of all sides was very evident. I think that this album has been unfairly maligned by those hardcore fans, who seem to neglect the fact that this still feels like Blindead, even though they have adopted a different approach here.

I also admired the fact that you refused to pigeon-hole this album behind a genre and openly acknowledged your difficulties trying to conceptualize the album. I think I may have prematurely called it "alternative metal", but my position certainly neglects some of the awesome post-metal-related additions. You do emphasize the alternative metal nature of the album, though, so I honestly cannot complain. Tying these guys to Riverside isn't a step I would have immediately gone to, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like an appropriate connection (at least at this point), especially since your review mentions this as a stepping stone for new listeners.

Overall, I have to say that your review and rating are just about spot-on, in my opinion. Thank you for writing, if only to expose this album to more Metal Storm users.
Góral - 30.12.2013 at 01:47  
Written by Divergenceless on 30.12.2013 at 00:40

I think that this album has been unfairly maligned by those hardcore fans, who seem to neglect the fact that this still feels like Blindead, even though they have adopted a different approach here.


You write about maligned, change of position. I see different subjective feelings about disappointment, a new band's face, loss of identity, soften the sounds, anxiety about future.. - R'Vannith beautifully considered all these thoughts. But "unfairly maligned this album", "different approach here" Is anybody here who maligned this album?
Karlabos - 30.12.2013 at 02:15  
01. a3
02. b6...

Wait, are these chess coordinates? >.<
Troy Killjoy - 30.12.2013 at 02:22  
No way. If you rearrange all the letters to match up chronologically with their adjacent number you get seanebc...

Okay nevermind that's not a word.
Divergenceless - 30.12.2013 at 04:12  
Written by Góral on 30.12.2013 at 01:47

Written by Divergenceless on 30.12.2013 at 00:40

I think that this album has been unfairly maligned by those hardcore fans, who seem to neglect the fact that this still feels like Blindead, even though they have adopted a different approach here.


You write about maligned, change of position. I see different subjective feelings about disappointment, a new band's face, loss of identity, soften the sounds, anxiety about future.. - R'Vannith beautifully considered all these thoughts. But "unfairly maligned this album", "different approach here" Is anybody here who maligned this album?

Let me correct myself. By "maligned", I actually meant "grossly misrepresented". In the threads on Progarchives and on Metal Storm, there are individuals who have greatly overemphasized the amount of change that has taken place here, and I think that R'Vannith ensured that the album was discussed appropriately in the context of the band's history.
R'Vannith - 30.12.2013 at 07:24  
Written by tea[m]ster on 29.12.2013 at 19:19

Wow, where to begin. First off, thanks for the review. It's the best you've ever written because you listened to other fellow MS'ers opinions about this album and freelanced about their feelings on how the "new" sound has affected them positively or negatively. Also, a great point about the production. The sound clearly has a major-label feel to it and it sounds like Blindead has been "Riversided". It's a great thing and a monumental stepping stone for the band. I cannot wait to see them ascend further.

Also, for you other Polish metal fans, Entropia's Vesper is a huge album too.


Blimey, thanks for the compliment! My view about how people would react to this one was inspired by fellow MS'ers for sure. I think they will get more attention with this record, which they truly deserve. I like that, "Riversided", that's the best way to describe it I think.

It seems I also have a thing for Polish metal, I've heard and liked that Vesper album as well.
R'Vannith - 30.12.2013 at 07:28  
Written by Divergenceless on 30.12.2013 at 00:40

A very intelligent and well articulated, fair review of a very divisive album. As tea[m]ster mentioned, this is probably the best review you've ever done and your consideration of all sides was very evident. I think that this album has been unfairly maligned by those hardcore fans, who seem to neglect the fact that this still feels like Blindead, even though they have adopted a different approach here.

I also admired the fact that you refused to pigeon-hole this album behind a genre and openly acknowledged your difficulties trying to conceptualize the album. I think I may have prematurely called it "alternative metal", but my position certainly neglects some of the awesome post-metal-related additions. You do emphasize the alternative metal nature of the album, though, so I honestly cannot complain. Tying these guys to Riverside isn't a step I would have immediately gone to, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like an appropriate connection (at least at this point), especially since your review mentions this as a stepping stone for new listeners.

Overall, I have to say that your review and rating are just about spot-on, in my opinion. Thank you for writing, if only to expose this album to more Metal Storm users.


Thanks a lot for the kind words! I'd trust your instincts there, to me it feels like an alternative metal album as well, more-so than anything else.

And you are quite welcome!
R'Vannith - 30.12.2013 at 07:30  
Written by Karlabos on 30.12.2013 at 02:15

01. a3
02. b6...

Wait, are these chess coordinates? >.<


If they are, I believe the band won with this album. Checkmate!
R'Vannith - 30.12.2013 at 07:33  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 30.12.2013 at 02:22

No way. If you rearrange all the letters to match up chronologically with their adjacent number you get seanebc...

Okay nevermind that's not a word.


Hehe, yeah, I'm not sure what the band intended with the arrangement of the track titles. If I were to have a closer look at the lyrics, they would likely reveal more about it.
R'Vannith - 30.12.2013 at 07:40  
Written by BloodTears on 29.12.2013 at 13:37

This is a very interesting album. Never listened to the band before but when Momo recommend it, I had a feeling I would like it.

One of the best albums I listened to this year. Poland certainly does produce some good metal.


I agree about it being one of the best albums this year, and I'd say it's also one of my most listened as well. It's one of those albums which I can listen to quite often without it ever getting old or stale.

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