Label: Breathe Plastic Records
When people talk about how beautiful and life-affirming heavy music can be, they’re talking about albums like this. Growth is the first full length album from Finnish band renate/cordate, and it’s one of the most joyously heavy things I’ve heard in a while. There’s a lot of bands trying to add a psychedelic influence to doom metal and sludge, but few who are doing it so successfully as these four guys, who also add more than a few hints of post-metal in to the mix. Hitting some of the same highs as the likes of Neurosis, Boris, Isis, and bands not ending in -is (Earth, Yob, even shades of Pink Floyd-esque space rock), this is prime music for staring in to the ether, letting the band carry you away, so utterly glorious in its cleansing, cathartic nature.
First song Growth does open with something of a curve-ball, with the gentle drumming and feedback of opener “Evolve, Submit” soon being replaced by crashing, thunderous metal. A strong, melodic bassline keeps things grounded as the guitars search and soar, before the band lock in to a groove and the vocals kick in, cleverly placed at the back of the mix to ensure that the focus is on the music. And like all the best psychedelic music – regardless of genre – it takes you away from the everyday, lifting the listener out of whatever environment they find themselves in to somewhere better. Sure, there’s some undeniably dark, heavy undertones as the song moves on, but the overall feeling is of release and catharsis.
That kind of vibe lasts for the majority of the album, with it being full of movements that combine the heavy with a sense of beauty, moving from spaciousness to crushing weight with little warning. It’s to their credit thatthe band have recorded an album that is simultaneously consistent in sound and feel, whilst possessing enough variety and ideas to stay interesting. It’s as well suited for dropping out and letting it wash over you as it is for active engagement. And whilst the tone and feel of the music moves and shifts – there are plenty of sections with negative undercurrents, even when the music is fairly spacious, as during the Isis-esque opening of “Humankind (Not My Kind)” – the changes are never so radical as to disrupt the flow of the album.
It’s worth emphasizing out just how great a contrast there can be in some of these songs. Closer “Mother” spends the first four minutes of its almost seventeen minute duration as a nasty, aggressive rager, all sludge riffs and bad vibes, before suddenly shifting in to beautiful post-rock, full of space and light. As drastic as the shifts can be, they are never jarring, nor do they ever feel forced. Nor does it ever feel like it’s trying to show off how clever or progressive it is; the songs are long, shifting compositions because that is what works best. And like all the best psychedelic music, there is as much emotional weight here as there is anything cerebral or spiritual; and when the heavy hits, it’s quite often with a sense of joy stemming from just how crushing things can be. It’s quite a journey, and is sure to appeal to those who want something more in their heavy music than mere volume and headbanging.