By: Garviel Loken
a while a record comes along that utterly captivates the senses and draws
listeners across the musical event horizon, crushing the current
paradigm and ushering in a new standard. This
rare feat has been accomplished by North on their stunning new record,
"The Great Silence". Elementary and complex at the same time, this album is a true artistic statement that transcends any easy classification.
in like the slowly building fires of a newborn star, the music explodes
with incredible clarity and takes the listener across what feels like
light years of space and time. Beautifully
crafted with subtle textures and dynamic shifts, each song arrives out
of the blackness as one might discover a treasure deep down in the fuliginous
depths of an ocean or out in the silent void between the
constellations. The songwriting prowess of North is utterly supreme, as
every song fits perfectly into the architecture of the album, and the resulting sound is more cohesive than anything the band has done previously.
murky doom to majestic post-metal to artsy ambience, the shear
heaviness of "The Great Silence" is breathtaking on many levels. The
vibe that permeates the music comes off as an
inaudible drone that can only be described as subliminal. Remember the
Nietzsche quote "When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also
stares into you?". Well, that is exactly what this record is: the abyss
manifested into the grooves of a vinyl record. Nowhere is this better
demonstrated than on the two gargantuan songs Sentience and Où Est Tout Le Monde?, which feature gut wrenching vocals and monster riffs juxtaposed with sublime melody and calm,
atmospheric moments. Disturbing and awe-inspiring, this music is caged
lightning. It has power enough to open rifts into new dimensions,
wherein listeners can escape the mundane routine of life for awhile.
This record also has some surprises on it, mainly in the song Origins, a spaced out jam that features haunting female vocals that take the music to soaring, dramatic
levels. Also breaking up the pattern is a ridiculously infectious and
Clutch-like groove that fires off a few minutes into Où Est Tout Le Monde?. It is only carried
for a moment before fading back into the ether of the track. These are
just a couple of examples that demonstrate how North keep things
interesting and non-linear across the grand
gulf of the music. Things unfold at a deliberate pace and minute by
minute the album reveals itself, never losing ground, but adding new sonic colors that accentuate and emphasize particular passages.
creation that North has given life to benefits greatly from the
recording and production of Dana Fehr and Tom Beach. The record has
gigantic a sound with absolutely astonishing
clarity. The instruments sound organic and full, especially the drums,
which thunder and sit perfectly amongst the swirl and crunch of the guitars.
The vocals shine and the effects used on them here and there are
artfully chosen to enhance the music. The overall mixing of the album is
wonderful and hands down makes it one of the best recordings to be crafted on the independent level of music.
enhancement to the listening experience is the trippy artwork of the
album sleeve. Just like the album itself, not everything about the cover
reveals itself at first glance.
Representations of planets, stars, mountains, eyes, and many other
symbols clash for attention. The color pattern seems to be just white,
black, and brown, but look again and there are
blues, greens, reds, and yellows subtly worked into parts of it. The
art really does go with the music and each person who
looks at the cover while listening to the songs will come up with their
own ideas about what it means. That right there is another hallmark of a
great record: it doesn't give all the answers up on a silver platter, but leaves things open to interpretation.
can rarely do enough justice to a musical endeavor of this caliber, it
has to be absorbed and experienced to provide the best insight. With
that being said, the final thought on "The
Great Silence" has to be that is certainly a contender for a spot on the
best albums of the year list. Artistry on this high plane needs to be supported
and appreciated, for it is something not found everyday in music or any
other area of life. It is the spark of life found amongst the ruins of a
once great empire or the glittering ruby unearthed from the slag heaps of drab earth. Listen to see and hear to believe.
Final Score: 9/10