Northless - World Keeps Sinking
Gilead Media
7 songs (59:25)
Release year: 2013
Northless, Gilead Media
Reviewed by Charles
Northless, from Milwaukee, are on their second album now, having won various admirers with their first, Clandestine Abuse. Their approach to sludge is an interesting one; on one hand grimy and earthen, and on the other very progressively-minded. That is to say, the riffing is full of gloomy thunder, but enmeshed in long, twisting song structures and balanced with elements of post-metal melody. The result is a multi-faceted album with plenty to explore, although I tend to prefer the sections which rely more on doomy groove.

At their most interesting,Northless’s sound seems to teeter precariously under its own weight; for an example, see the way opener Last of Your Kind lurches violently from ominous doom chords to sumptuously slow, hardcore-influenced grooves. The sound can come across as slightly unstable, prone to sudden accelerations, and the songwriting often conjures a kind of jerky abrasiveness. Of course, in reality it is precisely executed and put together with great care and ambition. The gruff vocals and the thudding weight of the sound belie some nimble riffing; on the title track some of the ideas occasionally come across like a doom metal version of Helmet.

Then there is the other side to the band’s sound, much more influenced by more ‘post’ leaning sludge acts. World Keeps Sinking, particularly in its latter half, is a surprisingly dynamic record, equally concerned with brooding atmosphere and ominous crescendos. See, for example, the hints of sludgy melody on the likes of Communion, before it dies down into a delicately pretty clean guitar bit. This approach reaches its apotheosis with Passage, which takes a very lengthy and ambiguous build-up, before arriving at a stirring climax which is about as anthemic as one could ever expect this kind of music to be. Probably necessary to spend a bit of time with this to fully appreciate it, but even more casual listeners will find some impressive moments.

Killing Songs :
Passage, Last of Your Kind, Kuru
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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