By Matt Hinch
Salt Lake City’s Subrosa established themselves on 2011’s No Help For The Mighty Ones. That album garnered the band considerable praise, and rightly so. Incredible tone, two electric violins and gorgeous vocal harmonies set the band apart. It was certainly unlike anything this writer has heard before or since. Until that is, No Help’s worthy successor More Constant Than The Gods found its way to the critics.
Subrosa continue using the formula that has worked so well for them. That being in large part dynamics, textures and layers fed by pure emotion. For six tracks spanning over an hour we are privy to more shifts in tone, volume and sensation than one can take in without committing oneself to absorbing all that Subrosa lays out. Fourteen minute opener “The Usher” is a perfect example of this. Male and female vocals weave around each other as the violins lead into the crushing might the band is so good at. Thunderous and doomed guitar and bass collide with the dual violins and fall together in dynamic grace. These, along with the drums and a trio of harmonizing vocals fit together like pieces of a puzzle creating a vista of forlorn beauty. The album’s namesake lyric is contained herein as part of an incredible passage of expression. It’s as heartbreaking as it is uplifting.
You’re more constant than the stars
Because they change their paths with the seasons
You’re more constant than the moon
Because she hides her face in the shadows
You’re more constant than the sun
Because one day her embrace with melt the earth
You’re more constant that the gods
Because sometimes when we call, they don’t answer at all
From “The Usher”
Much of More Constant is vocally/lyrically driven as referenced on the immediate and sinister, yet sad and desolate “Ghost of a Dead Empire” and the beatific journey that is “Fat of the Ram”. Single “Cosey Mo” sees the emotional core of the song transformed from devastating to delicate by the violins as well as the vocals. The track rises high upon the flames as the chant of “Burning!” injects a fire into the listener. Violins caress with melody and varying warmth as the song winds down with doomed grace.
Heaviness and atmosphere are at play on “Affliction”. Tectonic riffs rattle the listener with seismic might and the violins dance among the cracks left in the aftermath. Slow and doomy, with anguished vocals, the track moves with a bevy of emotional textures leading the way.
Closing track “No Safe Harbor” saves the most heartbreaking sorrow for last. Piano and flute wrench every ounce of sadness from the listener’s soul. As usual, love is the center of the lyrical content. Stirring vocals harmonize with tearful impact before the tone changes again, as one would expect. The track and album close out with harrowing beauty, leaving the listener to reflect in solitude.
Wonderful songwriting and incredible dynamics surround the boundless emotional core on More Constant Than The Gods. Each and every track is precious in its pain and power. Subrosa plays the massive against the melancholic, heaviness against heartache, anger against affection, depression against devotion. They wrap sorrow and serenity around burliness and boldness to create songs overflowing with despair, ecstasy and passion. Many doom bands pry the soul from the chest but none do it quite like Subrosa. More Constant Than The Gods will sweep you up in its embrace like a long lost lover, never to let go.