Tideless - Eye Of Water review
|Album:||Eye Of Water|
|Release date:||September 2023|
01. Drowning (19° 40′ 49″ N, 99° 0′ 36″ W)
02. Fields At Dawn
03. Oblations For The Sun
01. Laurel Of Victory
Extreme doom metal and post-rock, while on the face of it seeming like polar opposites, aren’t actually all that incompatible; both are often geared towards atmosphere and emotion, both are often on the slower side of the spectrum, and both can feature climactic swells of volume. To that end, in a world where metal musicians constantly seek whatever musical territory that remains unchartered, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see bands exploring the similarities and contrasts of hellish and heavenly sounds.
One could argue that such ideas aren’t even new; the likes of Ahab, Esoteric and Mournful Congregation have exploited delicate tones amidst the obscenity of their funeral doom. However, approaches that more fully encompass the range spanning from death/doom and blackened doom through to post-rock and shoegaze are starting to pop up. An obvious example are Dream Unending, whose ‘dream doom’ has made significant waves in the past couple of years; another new example are Tideless, who are offering their own take on the idea.
The opening track on their sophomore album, Eye Of Water, maybe doesn’t fully indicate the range that Tideless have in store. Comfortably the album’s shortest track at a paltry 6 minutes, the instrumental-only “Drowning (19° 40′ 49″ N, 99° 0′ 36″ W)” sounds like somewhat conventional doom; there’s softer tones with clean guitar arpeggios, ambient synths and choirs near the end, but the meat of the track has accessible distortion and classic-sounding lead guitar melodies. “Fields At Dawn” carries over that lead guitar style, but reframes it in a death/doom context, as first growls, and then blasts and tremolo riffs, take over from the more melancholic doom approach. When in extreme mode, Tideless don’t stick to one lane; the riffing in the first half of this track can shift between death metal destruction and meloblack tremolo-ing. It’s what comes after the extremity, however, that exhibits why Eye Of Water is a remarkable record.
At around the 6-minute mark, Tideless pull right back, replacing the cacophony that was there just a second ago with delicate clean guitar ambience. When more substantial sound appears, it is in the form of dainty post-rock tremolo, shimmering amidst serenity. It’s a stark contrast to the first half of the song, but the band manage to tie the room together; this euphoric post-rock instrumentation is then merged with metallic distortion and death growls, with an end result that is painfully beautiful yet with a dark edge. It serves as a great prototype for the more multi-faceted “Oblations For The Sun”, which immediately follows. Again, the extreme doom on this track is properly extreme, with blasts, chromatic riffs and dissonant solos, but the lines blur a bit more between the lighter, cleaner passages and the intense metal, culminating in an emphatic, melancholic blackgaze/death-doom climax.
When I sarcastically described “Drowning” as being merely 6 minutes long earlier, I touched upon what is one of the more common topics of discussion when it comes to Eye Of Water: its length. This record is 75 minutes long, and it’s fair to say that many albums that have reached such lengths tend to outstay their welcome. However, as someone who’s been more than willing to criticize albums when artists have been greedy with how much material they cram in, I have to say that I don’t find myself irked by what Tideless have done here. If I were to pick any track here as dispensible, it would probably be “Laurel Of Victory”, but even then I find the guitar melodies on this song to be really effective.
Tideless really pull out all the stops on 24-minute closer “Lush.Serene.Dissolved”; a prolonged clean (plus growls) opening eventually moves into heavier territory, but even as the song feels like it’s descending into some eerie, dissonant chaos, there’s subtle melody sustained by guitar tremolo that adds another facet to proceedings. Eventually, the song fully dives into extremity, with blackened textures to the slower parts and dissonant chaos during the full-speed fracas, but the standout moments in this track are when Tideless find a balance between the two extremes of their range. I’m particularly fond of a moment midway through where a subdued clean-only sequence leads into a dramatic meloblack riff that lights up the subsequent few minutes.
There are still some rough edges to Eye Of Water. Despite the fact that it is consistently enjoyable, it’s still true that some of the writing on these mammoth songs is indulgent; the band could have easily rounded out “Lush.Serene.Dissolved” with aplomb by fading out with that aforementioned riff, but by opting to instead pull all the way back to several minutes of isolated clean chords, they give themselves a challenge in re-establishing the necessary momentum to give Eye Of Water a satisfying ending (something they do eventually accomplish). Additionally, the growls on the record have some roughness to them, which becomes a bit distracting at times, particularly on “Laurel Of Victory”, and the keyboards do sound a tad Fisher Price in the moments that they come through more prominently.
Despite this, it’s a lot easier to forgive imperfections or excess when it’s part of an album that fundamentally feels fresh and inspired than something that’s more derivative, and Eye Of Water is very inspired. Whether this is the first album to try and combine blackened/death doom with post-rock/blackgaze, I don’t know, but it’s certainly the first one that has done it so comprehensively, and unlike some such fusions, the two disparate styles are intrinsically brought together throughout the album. It’s a fascinating concept, and one that is compelling in its execution.
||Written on 21.09.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not|
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