Opener Benign Circle is a great way to kick things off with. A clean drum beat and strummed guitar riff lulls you into a false sense of security before the hammer drops and the song hits like planets colliding, it's an almost physical thing (and if you turn it up loud enough, it will be!) And you know what? It feels glorious. Then the whole thing collapses upon itself and the aforementioned beauty shines through with a sense of serenity, before crushing you again with a slab of granite-like sludge.
We get somewhat of a respite in the form of next song Two Heads on Gold. with it's rolling ominous drones. Hidden within the song is quite a beguiling melody hidden under the layers of aural miasma which become apparent when you give the song your full attention.
From there, we move onto next song Enigmatic Demand. A droning almost calming intro begins the song before hitting you with an absolute gut punch of sonic heaviness. Tortured vocals reminiscent of Aaron Turner at his most acerbic howl over monolithic noise dragged from the primordial swamp. It's as if the band have reached into themselves, dragged their darkest thoughts and energies and transferred it directly to their instruments. Yes it's suffocatingly intense and heavy, but it's this act of purging themselves which has produced something cathartic and cleansing. The dichotomy at the heart of this album is what makes it special.
From there, it's another shorter song Mouths Full of Water, Throats Full of Ice which is a surprisingly delicate number with gorgeous clean female vocals. It is a beautiful track and a real gem, it also gives the listener somewhat of a sonic palette cleanser. Then it's into final track Mourning the Real which is a real juggernaut of a track, slightly more experimental with longer ambient sequences which are particularly effective and do a great job of accentuating the bouts of sonic onslaught when they inevitably drop like an anvil. It's like an unstoppable black hole dragging everything in on itself, collapsing and condensing into a super dense nugget of weight. There is nothing rushed about this song, it's intricacies revealed to the inquisitive listener, yes it's bloody heavy, but also, it's beguilingly soothing, it's that dichotomy at play I mentioned earlier.
The band have taken the bones of their previous sound and refined it, improved upon their previous album in every way imaginable and produced a monument to monolithic grandeur. They have a firm grasp on dynamics and know the power of holding back until just the right moment to hit with an intense burst of noise, and the album is all the more powerful for it. The ambient sections are not just thrown in but have real thought, purpose and meaning. The whole album benefits from giving it your full attention as the layers slowly reveal themselves, it really benefits from repeated listens as all the nuances start to become apparent. There are moments of genuine beauty which are allowed to shine through like crepuscular rays of sunlight through an apocalyptic sky. Also, did I mention it's bloody heavy? If you like your music heavy and intelligent you owe it to yourself to listen to this album as it is glorious.