Downfall Of Gaia – Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes

Whilst the new album from German band Downfall Of Gaia may not have us shouting from the rooftops it is impossible not to be impressed and overwhelmed by Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes. It is a cavernous release, dark and intimidating expanses of sound which resonate deep within the senses and psyche. At times it is hard work traversing the towering peaks, valleys and swamps of sound and intensity which mark the colossal soundscapes but it is equally rewarding and acutely evocative at the same time. Music should provoke light and shadows and this new concept album from the Hannover based quartet undoubtedly does that.

Formed in 2008, the band originally had a sound more of crust origin which has evolved into the intrusive and oppressive heavy doom/sludge/black/melodic death blend which envelops from the heart of Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes. Their first year saw a demo EP to be followed in 2009 by a split release with French band Kazan and their debut album Epos a year later.  Downfall Of Gaia is a band constantly playing shows, the band having laid waste to senses live all across Europe and made intense and successful small inroads in the US, the current line-up of Dominik Goncalves dos Reis (guitars/vocals), Peter Wolff (guitars/ vocals), Anton Lisovoj (bass /vocals), and Johannes Stoltenburg (drums), a powerful and enormous confrontation live to be devoured intently. Last year saw a well received split album with In the Hearts Of Emperors from Sweden before working on Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes which has its release on Metal Blade Records.

The release opens with the air splitting sonically scraping [Vulnus], a track borne from small precise blisters to expand into a scouring yet captivating instrumental. To be honest all tracks can be looked at as vast compulsive instrumentals with the vocals within an unruly corrosive texture to the sonic narrative rather than a story teller in their own right.  The strong opening piece bleeds into the following Drowning by Wing Beats, its presence an organic continuation into darker corners and wider avenues. The track escalates as it proceeds into a storm of epic ambience and stomping grooves driven by hungry riffs and scorching melodic enterprise. As the intensity thickens across its seemingly combative landscape thoughts are sparked by the feeling of primal instinct drawn from a black beauty, its violent elegance and dynamic breath compulsive.

Again like between most songs there is a merging tone and energy as the excellent Into the Rivers Bleak swaggers into view, its drums an inciteful call whilst distorted melodic manipulations scar with acidic prowess alongside the bruising riffs. The song is a tempest of energy and viciousness tempered by abrasive yet mesmeric melodic shards of invention and restrained asides within its harsh journey. It is like the album not always an easy listen but never relinquishes a hypnotic hold on ear, senses and thoughts.

The following I Fade Away with its emotive peace and brewing venomous heart, the furnace that is Beneath the Crown of Cranes, and Giving Their Heir to the Masses, a song which feels like part triumph and part execution of light, barge and embrace the senses equally, their weight and intensity as formidable as the immense craft and imagination which conjured them. For sure the album should be heard as a whole to feel its full might and destructive beauty, but standing alone the songs offer a different but as rich an experience, and because of their caustic effect together arguably at times are more provoking apart once given individual focus.

Ending on closing piece [Asphyxia], the tail to the head of the release, Suffocating In The Swarm Of Cranes is an impressive and striking album, a release to unleash demons and cage hopes though never a final extinguisher of their light. Downfall Of Gaia do not make it an easy journey within their over powering sound but certainly ensure rewards and satisfaction are waiting at its end.

RingMaster 08/10/2012

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