Part Island by LatitudesRelease date: April 5, 2019
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
The press release attached to the fourth album by Latitudes makes big news of it being the first album to contain vocals on all tracks. However, those familiar with the back catalogue will have seen it coming and maybe wondered why it took so long. Whilst debut EP Bleak Epiphanies In Slow Motion was wall to wall with gloomy, screeching, instrumental darkness, the three follow up albums Agonist, Individuation and Old Sunlight contained far brighter recordings with a rich beautiful sound and a sprinkling of tracks with vocals. The evolution has continued with Part Island and the results are stunning. Each track drips with a glorious melancholy with rich and warm walls of guitars sweeping through gloriously sorrowful vocals and some stunning rhythm section work. With all these factors wrapped in some striking artwork we enter into the territory of this being Latitudes’ most impressive album yet.
I fell into the camp of wondering why it took so long for a full vocal album to appear. From the three previous albums the majority of my favourite tracks were those that contained the glorious vocals of Adam Symonds, but even I was surprised by opener ‘Underlie’. I had to check there wasn’t some kind of mix up and that the acoustic guitar, delicate vocals and light piano I was hearing belonged to the correct album. Whilst I was scrambling through emails and downloads a rumbling could be felt coming closer to focus before the gigantean guitars erupted on a wave of pounding bass and drums. There is no mistaking a Latitudes tsunami when it sweeps in like that.
Acoustic sections can also be found on ‘Fallowness’ and ‘Part Island’, but this quiet calm is only momentary in the scale of this vast release. It is quite difficult to describe how beautiful yet heavy this album is. There is a glow to the melancholic vocals and a warm punch to the drums even as they pound. The dual guitars provide two points of interest yet are united in driving the massive sound; it really is a credit to the band and producer Chris Fielding that it has been captured so well. ‘Moorland Is The Sea’ and ‘Dovestone’ both produce moments of immense aural pleasure with the driving guitar sounds that typify the album. However, the real stand out for me is ‘The Great Past’ due to the insane drumming of Mike Davies. It is some kind of miracle that only one man can cover so much ground and is behind such a vast sound. Cymbal flicks and tom fills rattle around you as if you were right there on the drum stool and your arms feel weary witnessing the ferocious effort being played out on every snare hit. I thought it would be impossible for him to beat his performance on ‘Shapeshifting’ from Individuation, but this is some effort.
Latitudes have shaped a unique sound over its last three albums and Part Island is a real pinnacle of that work. The ability to switch between deep chugging riffs and higher pitched licks without breaking down the flow of a song is unmistakable. The use of vocals is focused with a natural feel and words aren’t just thrown until they stick and they really bind in with the band. The rhythm section is beyond belief as the bass and drums create their own patterns as well as laying a base for the guitars to rise from. I hate to be one of those people, but I do think I may have just listened to the album of the year, if not; I can’t wait to hear what betters this.