Groundswells by WrenRelease date: June 26, 2020
Label: Gizeh Records
What everyone needs right now is some more darkness, after the isolation of lockdown and the pending crisis of Brexit the soul needs to find some extra depth. Luckily for all, London’s most cathartic post-metal band Wren has produced a wonderous new album in Groundswells. Once you finish sinking in and out of the stunning artwork you are plundered with six tracks of the deepest post-metal to have been released this year. The digital release comes out a week after the summer solstice which offers a darkening reminder that the decline towards winter has begun and there is no better soundtrack for the journey.
Groundswells has moments of comforting familiarity and I don’t want to use the phrase old-school, as that makes me feel incredibly old, but you do get a sense of the early claustrophobic post-metal of ISIS. ‘Chrome’ has an enormous chugging riff which could have been on Celestial (The Tower) and some of the vocal work recalls the genius of Aaron Turner. This album is far from plagiarism though and even when Wren slow down they weigh far heavier on the conscience.
After the blistering opening two tracks ‘Murmur’ is the first glimpse of a possible lightening but even the optimistic riff quickly dies down below the murky instrumentation like fallen leaves suffocating the sunlight starved autumnal grass. ‘The Throes’ is probably the slowest song on the album but again it doesn’t let up on the weight with a buzzsaw of a riff slowly cutting in and withdrawing at a menacing pace.
The standout moment on the album for its differentiation comes with the ten minute ‘Subterranean Messiah’, which is made even gloomier with the collaboration of Fvnerals and cello from Jo Quail. There is a lot packed into the 10 minutes from the gloomy start to the glacial end and a mammoth wrestle between the slower stylings on Fvnerals and the heavier crunch of Wren.
This is a huge achievement by Wren and there is a great flow that sort of felt missing from the debut album. The quality of recording has also moved up a gear which helps wrap it all together so solidly. Even after I had finished listening to this album I had the riffs circling around my mind and making me want to listen to it again. No mater how easy it is to compare tiny aspects to other artists this is the true scale of the achievement, once it gets in there it isn’t easily removed. I expect to see this one riding high on the end of year lists as this is stunning post-metal.
Note: Vinyl/CD is due for release on 25th September 2020.