Rwake – Rest

By Gruesome Greg

I guess you could say that Rwake has been Resting, as this is their first record since ‘07’s Voices of Omens. But that would be doing the band an injustice, as they’ve done plenty of touring in that time, as well as putting together the Slow Southern Steel documentary, which I can’t wait to see. As it turns out, there are only six tracks on their awakening, but they last over fifty-four minutes, and two of them are but brief, mood-setting pieces. The remaining four range from nine to sixteen minutes in length.

After the minute-thirty opener “Souls of the Sky,” we’re hit with some slow sludge riffing and angry vocals in the form of “It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour.” An evil-sounding video game riff comes in as the vocalist turns the dial from hardcore to death metal, before a slow, instro passage bangs yer head slowly in preparation for a middle-eastern-influenced guitar solo. Things then get a little weird, some melodic, music-box riffing and gruff-voiced yells making for a peculiar combination. Ends with a military-style drum flourish beneath gothic doom interludes a full twelve minutes later.

“An Invisible Thread” is the shortest proper song on here, coming in just a hair short of the nine-minute mark. It opens up in tr00 black metal fashion, recalling a non-orchestral Emperor in some ways. It takes a couple minutes before things slow down, with an out-there, spacey doom riff that sounds like a head-on collision between Neurosis and Voivod. We do get a more traditional doom riff later on, with some pounding, Jason Roeder-style drumming as the song draws to a close.

You know, I could probably eat dinner in the time it takes to listen to “The Culling,” the album’s centerpiece that clocks in at 16:33. The first several minutes are just classical-style guitar with what almost sounds like a Theremin in the background, until it eventually builds into a crescendo, winding prog-metal riffs woven around a cool drum fill. Oh, and the guitar solo at the three-quarter mark is pure Iron Maiden.

A spoken word interlude introduces album closer “Was Only a Dream,” which is only a tad shorter at 14:14. This one gets right down to business with a bell-ringing riff and cascading drums, marching into a mid-paced, blackened stomp, alternating hardcore and black-metal vocals. With several minutes left to go, we get our dose of classical guitar, albeit with some angry preachin’ overtop. Lasts but a minute or two till the heaviest riff on this record comes in to crush ‘em.

An original effort of epic proportions, Rest takes the music of Neurosis/Isis into the 21st century, with their own unique southern touch. Often, songs this long have me nodding off, but there is enough dynamic fluidity, changes of tempo, pace and styles to keep me interested throughout. Well worth the hour long—and (retail price to be determined) investment!

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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.