It’s weird how one note makes all the difference to a chord, how subtle changes to what you’re playing takes something somewhere new, the differences between unsettling and euphoric are just a finger’s breadth away. Abest get that, and it’s to their credit that they utilise these contrasts alongside the rest of their sonic arsenal.
Opener Endure highlights the band’s open minded approach to what we’ll call for now ‘Post-Metal’, combining ever shifting arpeggios with Sumac-esque shifts in feel and time, intelligently deployed blastbeats, and a tuning so low as to make even hardened sludge fans say ‘fuck me, that’s low’.
The breakneck pace continues through second track Lockjaw. It’s pretty obvious that the band owe more to bands like The Psyke Project than the slow quietLOUDquietLOUD school of Post-Metal and the pummelling stark single hits that swing abruptly into the grindcore of Remnant Fault make the album seem like it would sit more happily alongside bands like Weekend Nachos or Leeched in your tape collection than Cult Of Luna.
It was at this point, as the relative respite of the intro to Dread, with its slower tempi and cleaner sonic palette washing over me, I really started to question, was this even a Post-Metal record at all? No tracks over five minutes. Seven tracks and a run time of less than 23 minutes. There’s no ‘look how lush I can make my reverb and delay pedals sound to distract you from my lack of ideas’ moments. No long drawn out sections of said ideas outstaying their fucking welcome…
I almost came over all existential before the short sharp shocks of Rudimentary Need dragged me away from that sort of frippery, and back to the point, which is that this album does not fuck about. The grinding, metallic, blasts of Hardcore remind me of if the guys from Leeched got really into early Mastodon. It’s as self-assured as the Manchester titans are, with the same take no prisoners energy and the same unrestrained savagery.
Bonds Of Euphoria is definitely going straight on my gym playlist and it belongs firmly in the ears of everyone with an open mind who likes properly heavy music…
I’ve been relatively harsh on some Post-Metal albums in the past for dragging out a lack of ideas over too long a time, and it could be argued this swings the pendulum too far back in the other direction. It’s definitely not one to put on while you’re in a slow and meditative headspace, nothing here drags on too long, everything has a reason to be here and every track for sure leaves you wanting more. That said there are no stand out moments that would leave you picking up your jaw and your pint off the floor if you saw it live, no truly epic climaxes and while there is euphoric catharsis, it’s the sort that comes after having the shit kicked out of your ears for twenty five minutes.
So in conclusion, what am I trying to say about this record? Is it the sludgy Post-Metal that the press release promised? To my ears, no. Does it matter? Definitely not. Would I recommend it to somebody seeking out a traditionally “euphoric” Post-Metal record? No. Would I recommend it to somebody who wants to hear a really fucking good record? Yes.
Most importantly, is it the best that it can be? I don’t think so but the band are only on their third release in five years, so there’s every reason to expect their best is yet to come, and that’s really not to say it’s not great because it is, just that there’s room for improvement. I sincerely hope this release helps the band gain traction and play on international stages because live, they’re going to be like a sledgehammer to the face.
Bonds Of Euphoria is definitely going straight on my gym playlist and it belongs firmly in the ears of everyone with an open mind who likes properly heavy music.
Scribed by: Chris Wood