Arkansas doom masters Rwake are re-releasing their first ever demo, Xenoglossalgia: The Last Stage of Awareness, in February via Relapse Records, and I am pretty fucking excited about that.
It was released in 1998, when the band were in their early 20’s, then re-released through House of…
This will be the most difficult review I think I have ever posted. Not because of anything serious or whatever, it’s just that this is a difficult album to grasp a hold of. For one, there are 6 songs on the album and it’s a little over 52 minutes long, which isn’t too weird if you are into drone (Sun O))))))))))/ Steven O'Malley stuff). But nothing on this album is droned at all. So here arises the first problem to me of Rest: how are you supposed to listen to this? With nearly ALL metal albums nowadays, you may have a handful of powerful 4-6 minute tracks and then it’s over. With Rwake, you have 3 minute creepy acoustic interludes (like the opening track) that build to these monstrous epics that seem to last forever. And it’s not like there are these super obvious transitions throughout these 10+ minute tracks (like in “Echoes” by Pink Floyd [my favorite song of all time]): the changes are more subtle, which is good I think. Vocally, I would say they are ok. The screams and yells are cool, but often I hear C.T.’s voice crack. I feel that this can be a little amateur-esque, but then sometimes it almost sounds like an effect was put over the vocal track.
Anyway, I could probably write a 5 page paper over this album, highlighting both the positives and negatives, but I don’t have the time. I spent all week trying to collect my thoughts about Rest and this is what I have came up with: Rest is definitely a polarizing album; some people will like it and some people will not; I think this album should be listened to by a mature metal audience; it’s not for everyone. Decide for yourself: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXE2WbmznUU]
S&P 5000 credit rating: tentative AA
’has very strong capacity to meet its financial commitments,but susceptibility to long-term risks appears somewhat greater’
Genres: sludge metal, power metal, metal metal, mental metal
The best summary of this album has already been written by JR at heavyblogisheavy.com: This album “makes me want to get stoned and beat up some dragons with my bare fists, but I won’t enjoy it because I’m too pissed off and depressed that I’m going to die soon anyway." Actually, that sums up most Rwake albums that I have heard, apart from the bit about dragons. Rwake are a sludge/doom metal outfit, and they stick to their guns with this release aside from getting a little prog-y in places, so fantasy creatures are acceptable.
I took two "casual listens” of Rest, because the first time around I was a bit thrown off. It is much more refined - almost symphonic - in composition than other albums, and I wasn’t expecting it. Giving it a second chance was the correct choice; this is a badass record.
The opening is a jangling but ominous acoustic guitar with angelic vocals over top for an intro, then runs you back and forth through typical Rwake loping sludge to sections of black metal to almost thrash breakdowns. Next, some spacey Moog with a voice sample from a 2001: A Space Odyssey for an interlude before an amazingly powerful ending.
Was Only a Dream is the by far the best track on Rest, and it blew me away. It has a powerful, powerful opening with a catchy riff and then some chilling solos. A full fade out with 5 minutes left in the song left is curious, but they bring back some of the acoustic noodling reminiscing earlier bits of the record when BAM! Right back in with a powerful breakdown with a huge solo to finish the track. I literally wrote “FUCK. UNEXPECTED.” in my notes.
It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour is a brutal kick off after the soft (granted creepy) intro track. It throws you right in with a wall of distortion and vocalist C.T. growl-screaming “Oblivion welcomes!” The track quickly picks up and hints of some thrash and blast beats show up. There is a fun interchange between those bits and the expected sludge until a fun build up for the ending.
I thought the first “movement,” if you will of The Culling dragged on too long - six and a half minutes of violin over one guitar - without much development. It worked for an intermission from the barrage Rwake throws and as a buildup to the meat of the track; I just felt it would be put together better.