Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Walk Through Fire - Furthest From Heaven

Walk Through Fire is a murky specimen. Their second album, Further From Heaven, has a propensity for Isis and Neurosis style buildups with Earth style patience. I would wager that fans of sound combinations and guitar tones would enjoy the atypical clanginess of Walk Through Fire's approach to the sludge and doom style histrionics of their contemporaries. From a totally unbiased standpoint, I would claim that Walk Through Fire learn and grow across the album admirably though do little to solve the problem that I find so fundamental in most of this general style; a lack of climactic dynamic. There is only so far you can take a fourteen minute track - or, due to the similarity of the first songs on this album, a twenty five minute track - before you begin to wonder if the song had reached it's height and is starting to die down or if it has yet to climb that final hurdle and manhandle your ears. That single important factor is what betrays most bands similar to Walk Through Fire. I'm patient, but apparently not sluggish enough for this one.

Still, there are some interesting moments on Walk Through Fire's Furthest From Heaven that are worth discussing. As mentioned, the band tackles the issues of tonal depth well, with a clear yet viscous tone that produces contrasting tones that are interesting to reflect on while you wait for the meandering structures to move along. The problem of variety is compounded with passionate though predictable vocals with the characteristic rasp of angry middle aged men with too much time and not enough compositional acumen. Both guitarist Ufuk Demir and bassist Andreas Olsson offer ingredients to the vocal oatmeal on this platter but without looking in the booklet there is a good chance you wouldn't be able to tell. With two vocalists, there is an opportunity for more depth and variety than is presented.

Though both opening tracks, "Furthest from Heaven," a song about there being no heaven (truly original subject matter, I know... ), and second track "Through Me They Bleed," a vague song about being a martyr or something, it isn't until the final two tracks that the album produces worthy listening. "The Dying Sun" is basically an intro for "The Dead Sun." It's ambient, eerie and subtle. It does more for the album's flow and pacing than anything that happened in the first two tracks and while it's best to view the track as it relates to it's successor, to mention it as itself is important as well. It moves through a slow dirge and fades away triumphantly into the most memorable track on the release, "The Dead Sun." It follows a long, drawn out chord progression into the abyss. The progression lasts about two full minutes to make a single rotation before reverting back into the buildup which opened the track and it works well in this case due to the strength of the chord progression. Though the drumming during the progression sounds a bit tired and lacking, it almost works with the song somehow. The song breaks apart halfway in, revealing a length section of noisy clean guitar strumming - a nice dichotomy for the track which remained mostly loud and distorted throughout. It cleanses the auditory palette.

Ending with a reprise of "The Dying Sun's" ambient style, the song makes a strong cycle around leaving one fulfilled that the album wasn't a total bust. I really felt that Walk Through Fire shined when they focused more on the melodies and less on the sludgy, heavy aspect of their sound. They don't do enough to compel the listener with heaviness. Overall, this really is only worth checking out for fans of the post-rock, sludge, droney style of things. Anyone else will probably find Walk Through Fire incredibly boring. For myself, I have a hard time listening to half the album because of it's redundancy. At least the final track and it's satellite were somewhat gratifying.

No comments: