Leonov - Wake
Fysisk Format
Post-metal doom
5 songs (43' 20")
Release year: 2018
Fysisk Format
Reviewed by Andy

It's not often that one sees a completely modern take on doom metal, but Leonov's Wake comes pretty close. Drenched in post-rock stylings, ethereal female vocals, and intricate ringing guitar melodies, the Norwegian quintet's latest album still has a solid core of noisy, crushing riffs to enjoy. While I found it fading into the background when I wasn't directly paying attention to it, that's not how it should be listened to anyway. This is one that deserves a careful listen (which it eventually got).

The musical atmosphere is dreamlike, with occasional shadows of menace. Taran Reindal's soft, partially unintelligible vocals, often sung over a layered chorus of wordlessly vocalizing versions of itself, provides a lot of this ambience, but the guitar leads have the same soft but chorused sound. Underneath all the wispy prettiness is a sludgy rhythm guitar that keeps itself reined in for most songs, only to burst forth once the song's well built-up, crashing down like a tidal wave on the appropriately-named Oceanode. In between these extremes are layers upon layers of guitar and synth moodiness, a swirling melange of noise and melody combined. This isn't all pure art-rock abrasion for its own sake: I Am Lion, I Am Yours, the first track, is probably the most traditional in song structure, but none of the tracks wander.

Even the title track, a 15-minute finale at the end with more minimalistic flourishes and ambient noise than the other tracks, has some hooks to it. An organ. played by Reindal, dips in and out of a background of electronic buzzing, which in itself fades in and out. The only constant is the slow plunking of a clean electric guitar. The long-awaited build-up comes in the last three minutes, as the guitar gets noisier and more aggressive until we're finally playing some honest-to-God metal and all that slithery, introspective stuff is safely in the rearview mirror. That may be a little too long of a build-up for my patience level -- but that's a purely personal preference, and others might see it differently.

Regardless of one's feelings about the last track, Wake is a good album. It's complex, sonically inventive, and takes the band's post-rock and noise influences to a space that is all their own.

Bandcamp: https://leonov.bandcamp.com/album/wake.

Killing Songs :
I Am Lion, I Am Yours, Oceanode
Andy quoted 82 / 100
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