Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review of "Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes" by Downfall of Gaia

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1. [Vulnus]
2. Drowning By Wing Beats
3. In the Rivers Bleak
4. I Fade Away
5. Beneath the Crown of Cranes
6. Giving Their Heir to the Masses
7. [Asphyxia]

“Dark, ominous, yet not completely hopeless, Downfall Of Gaia's music is as uplifting as it is overwhelming. The aural peaks and valleys fill the often lengthy tracks with a rewarding listening experience. The quartet was founded in the middle of 2008 and, after a few member changes, ended up with their current line-up: Dominik Goncalves dos Reis (guitars + vocals), Peter Wolff (guitars + vocals), Anton Lisovoj (bass + vocals), and Johannes Stoltenburg (drums). The members of Downfall Of Gaia reside in various cities throughout Germany. Their practice space, however, isn't in one of the common German fashion cities like Berlin or Hamburg, but in Hannover, a city many people connect to the Scorpions. Not to a sound that is reminiscent of an avalanche of black earth, boulders, and mud. Downfall Of Gaia have developed their current sound over the course of several years. In their early days of existence, they could easily have been described as a crust band. During this "crustier" period, they released a split in 2008 with French band Kazan. A year later, they released a tour EP, and in 2010 Downfall Of Gaia finally released their debut album "Epos" with the help of a few DIY-labels. When Downfall Of Gaia is not in the rehearsal room or in the studio, they welcome life on the road and tour whenever and wherever they can. They have not only performed on countless stages in the German speaking countries, but also in countries like Italy, the UK, France, the Netherlands and in several cities in various countries in Eastern Europe. They have even made a trip across the Atlantic to the United States for a small, but intense tour. Downfall Of Gaia's live intensity is unwavering, whether they are performing to ten guests in a club or in front of thousands of people at a festival. Downfall of Gaia's DIY attitude lead to their next release in 2011: a split-LP with Sweden's In the Hearts Of Emperors on the Alerta Antfascista label. The album was also released by Moment Of Collapse and Shove Records. The release displayed a massive step forward, both musically and lyrically. Though their origin was very crust-infused, the band has taken a much different approach to more recent material. Fast d-beat influenced songs have given way to longer, slower tunes. Recent material can be described as enormous creations that encroach upon the listener like a towering monolith. Their new sound draws elements from doom, black metal, down tempo, sludge, and even hardcore. The end result is an aesthetic not lacking in majesty or depth.”

This album starts off with “[Vulnus]” and a really slow but catchy riff. I liked how it creeps in over the guitar feedback. The blast beat was awesome with the blackened riff. This is a great doom feeling instrumental. I liked the drumming in “Drowning By Wing Beats” and the guitars felt really cold and dark, as well as the vocals. The more doom driven bit, near the end, was a good touch and the chugging lead and rhythm with more blast beats to end was nice. “In the Rivers Bleak” starts with a very chilled out drum intro with accompanied lead guitar. This track definitely has a more stoner metal feel to it, especially the mellower bit about half way. It ends like it starts which is always a cool way to go about writing.  

I like the echo on the intro riff of “I Fade Away,” it made it relaxing and was a great break from the heavy stuff. The bit when the hi hat and lead guitar came in was great and when the drums pick up you know what follows, which is stoner riffs aplenty. I really like the vocals on this one a lot. A very eerie intro to lead into drumming with a catchy slow riff to start off the next track entitled “Beneath the Crown of Cranes.” The vocals in this were awesome especially half way through and the slow part at the end is really nice.

The intro riff of the very doom feeling track, “Giving Their Heir to the Masses”, was great. The part a little over half way was really nicely laid out, with the way everything flowed and the drumming at the end was great. Another great echo effected guitar bit with mellow drums to start of the last track. The riff after with faster drums was nice as well. “[Asphyxia]” was a nice instrumental to end the album.

This album is great for those stoner metal listeners and also possibly even black metal fans as well. I think it is worth a listen and the only thing I has to nitpick about is that the guitars get a little boring after a while with the fast strumming style, but otther than that I very much so enjoyed this album. Downfall of Gaia know how to combine black, doom, and stoner metals the best I have seen in a while.

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