Saturday, October 29, 2011
Airs - Gloomlights (2011)
Country: San Francisco, California/Florida
Label: Music Ruins Lives
Within their short existence, the duo known as Airs has evolved from a rather unoriginal solo project into a very interesting duo. Their last album, "Rainclouds Over The Remains of Hope," was released earlier this year and they've been pumping out material quite frequently ever since. Each release has brought them a step closer to this double-album, where one could say they've found their sound.
Taking into account their former black metal leanings, the duo known as Airs decided to craft an album dedicated to both sides of their sound. This double-album features an album of melodic, poppy shoegaze material while disc two features more of their black metal sound. The first disc, titled "Lights," opens with the post-rocky Harvest Moon before diving into more poppy and upbeat material with Scott Pilgrim vs. You. A lot of the songs on this first album are more in the direction various smaller releases have seen the band looking into more and more, with songs being more simplistic but just as catchy. When I look back at their past flirtations with this style a noticeable trend seems to just pop out at me, the band sounds their best, when they're doing the poppy numbers anyway, when the songs are very short and concise. On here, and keep in mind this is just my opinion, but the band sound their best when they're doing really short songs, as in, the shortest songs on here, White Rose and Caves for instance, because the melodies are a lot more immediate and the music is more up-tempo. Having said that, there are more instances of longer tracks, but not a lot longer, being having similar impacts. This first disc is a bit inconsistent to me, the first half is a little disappointing, but the second half is full of really solid shoegaze and post-rock material.
As for the second disc, titled "Gloom," where we have more of the band's black metal side coming out, it's not exactly as full frontal as I expected it to be. Instead of blazing tremolo picking and blast-beats, what's on here is more apt to be in the blackened doom category, with a lot of the blackgaze style coming through as well. In some cases it's similar to what might happen if Nortt began taking an interest in Alcest. In that regard, songs like the title-track, Gloomlights, is a nice blend of the two styles working together. A lot of what's on here is more mid-to-slow paced with a similar sense of atmosphere to the first disc but with a lot more feedback and distortion used. A track like Movement is pretty slow for the most part and just seems to chase it's tail for about thirteen minutes, unfortunately, and contains very little "black metal" tendencies. On a sidenote though, I did enjoy the drone doom conclusion of Shift (Repeat) and found it to be a fitting ending to the album.
In the end I think it's a pretty strong album as a whole, but not without it's weaker moments. I definitely would have loved to hear the duo go a bit more intense with the black metal portion of their sound, but thems the breaks. Check it out if you're into poppy shoegaze, blackgaze, atmospheric black metal and the like.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: White Rose, Knee-Deep In The Dead, Feathers, Velvet