Is there much left that can be done with the post metal model? It conjures a certain sound immediately for the listener and sometimes that means clichés like the loud-quiet dynamic of sludgy riffs colliding with pretty post rock washes. There are a lot of these identikit bands out there all the while, many of the truly innovative bands of recent years, like Light Bearer and Year of No Light, have seemingly pushed the subgenre as far as it can go. What happens next?
The UK’s Latitudes may have an answer with Old Sunlight, their third album. It’s a staggering record both in how it has been deftly crafted and the vast cinematic feel it has throughout while also avoiding common tropes that would make it predictable. Largely instrumental, the coarse yet gorgeously melodic sound of the band pulls in a lot of different influences but makes it all cohesive.
The massive nine minute instrumental opener ‘Ordalian’ invoke a dense and dramatic atmosphere at first, almost reminiscent of Blut Aus Nord’s Cosmosophy only for scythe-like lead guitars that are almost verging on metallic hardcore in their piercing sound to slice through that atmosphere viciously. Special mention must be made of the warm production here too, once this opening gambit has kicked in, there’s no looking away as it completely envelops the listener.
The flow is momentarily interrupted by the album’s first sign of vocals on ‘Body Within a Body’ with their singer’s hypnotic croon that, on paper, sound like it should be at total odds with the dense walls of sound from the guitar but it gels beautifully.
Granted, the album very much uses the peaks and valleys formula but it works here just fine. The three minute noisy interlude ‘Amnio’ is perfect for building tension for when Old Sunlight noticeably picks up in pace and aggression on ‘Gyre’.
Vocals are very much a complementary tool on this record and for the better. Not that they’re weak or anything, far from it, rather they’re used sparingly, which makes their impact all the better and more affecting, like the gorgeous ‘In Rushes Bound’, which flows perfectly into the voiceless ‘Altarpieces’, the album’s stunning crescendo number.
We’re still early in 2016 but Latitudes have certainly set a pretty standard with Old Sunlight for the coming months.