Arkansas band Rwake is one of those bands that cannot be labelled or pinned down sound wise. Many label them progressive/sludge/doom but they gloriously defy any distinct tagging, their music a rewarding and unrelenting blend of a vast array of sub metal/rock genres. After four years the quartet return with new album Rest, a stunning and mesmeric follow up to their acclaimed Voices of Omens release of 2007. Consisting of six mountainous tracks the album reminds and reinforces the previous evidence that Rwake is one of the more unique, creative and essential metal bands of the past decade.
Since the band released their first official album Hell Is The Door To The Sun in 2002, though there was previously in 1999 a full length which was only distributed by the band whilst on tour and on hand written CD-R’s, Rwake has stirred up firm attention and stretched senses to great effect. A tour with Alabama Thunderpussy thrust them further upon the metal map as did the album If You Walk Before You Crawl You Crawl Before You Die released via At A Loss Record. The beginning of 2006 saw the band sign to Relapse Records and the following year marked the awe inspiring and senses slapping release of Voices of Omens, the point when the band really took hold and wonderfully scarred metal. With a mix of venomous harsh metal and striking melodically atmospheric sounds Rwake announced their importance then and for the future of rock music. Rest picks up the momentum and accelerates it with music and sound that the word impressive really does not do justice.
The album starts with the brief ‘Souls Of The Sky’, atmospheric and haunting with hypnotic female voices complimenting the soulful acoustic sounds it lifts the senses to the emotive heavens with no indication of the intrusions ahead. The piece is not there to trick but to gently and deeply open up the heart and senses for what is to come, waking up emotions to a level where the varied power and consumption of next song ‘It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour’ is welcome and eagerly accepted. This second piece of wonder explodes from the off, bristling with keen intensity as it aggressively snarls. The track is a monstrous beast playing with its prey. Across its twelve minute length the song’s creativity and diversity is as immense as the menacing power it delivers, overwhelming wonderfully as it evolves from a rampant beginning into a lumbering brute of a track, with engaging progressive guitars scything their way into the ear. The vocal growls are as harsh and abusive as the intrusive sounds, earnest shouts and ‘groans’ that push the intensity higher.
‘An Invisible Thread’ tears at the ear next with a black metal flavoured tint added to the progressive guitars and ultimatum giving rhythms and riffs, their intent and force demanding submission. As sludge grown grooves permeate the track and the pace varies with little respite from the intense tones the sounds attach themselves deeper and firmer into the listener. This is audio breath, essential to survive the day once it’s mesmeric and hypnotic flavours roost on every synapse and thought.
As the track ends the thought is the band has found its pinnacle but not at all, for once the album’s best track ‘The Culling’ unveils its glory new heights are reached. The song is stunning, a glory from its melodic and peaceful yet haunting emotive opening which builds up into an expansive maelstrom of bitterness, venom and eventual brutality. The track is beautiful if the word can be used to describe the oppressive deathly corruption it eventually turns into. Sixteen minutes of diversely flowing flavours and uniquely impressive songwriting that has not been challenged let alone surpassed for quite a while.
Final song ‘Only A Dream’ brings forth the only criticism that can be laid at the Rest, in that its three distinct parts, a progressively scorched caustic opening half, an acoustic declaration with scowling vocals which opens into a rock filtered heavy flow, and a final closing narrative over a dying ambient sound, feel simply placed one after the other rather than brought forth with a smooth transition. The parts are perfectly delivered and the intention obvious but against the undeniable skill and union of such diversity in previous tracks it feels less polished.
Rest brings forth a bleak stark and darkly ominous feeling within its mighty sounds, a realistic and uncompromising impression of a world we all endure. Dark though it is the veins of imaginative and engaging razor sharp melodies give some light in the blackness. Rwake may have taken a while to return but they have once more taken metal down new and deeply pleasing adventures and soundscapes. The word classic was made for albums like this, and the sounds within Rest destined to inspire and enhance each and every lifetime.