Hailing from Baltimore, Lathe are an instrumental post-rock three-piece with an utterly refreshing take on a subgenre that, like so many others, can easily become a cliché of itself. Their sound is highly reminiscent of Earth, with melodic drone riffs accompanied by elements of country and blues. But I would say that Lathe’s approach is somewhat more upbeat and vibrant than what Dylan Carlson usually delivers. They create a swirling sonic tapestry of organ, pedal steel guitar, and riffing that evokes a tumbleweed-strewn trail in the Old West against the backdrop of a vast mountain range.
The opening track Vinegar perfectly defines Lathe’s sound. Gorgeous wisps of pedal steel against a drone march with steady drumming link together to form a grand soundscape. I haven’t heard such a seamless blending of doom metal and Americana like this since Across Tundras.
The following track Drain continues the approach, only to pick up the pace at the halfway mark for a more rollicking effect, while Heat Wave is nothing short of a piece of theme music for an ominous gang of outlaws and gunfighters walking into town. The pedal twang weaves in and out of spaces between ominous distorted guitars effortlessly, to the point where you can feel the hot dusty desert wind blowing against your face. If I were directing a Western film, I would try to employ Lathe to that task.
The *ahem* interestingly titled Rodeo Fumes brings some punk influences into the fray. Admittedly I have little understanding of the various pairings of punk and country that have popped up over the years, but this is an approach I can get by. Most surprising is how the track ends in a mass of static white noise which then transitions into the segue piece 351W, but I guess rodeo fumes will do that.
Gorgeous wisps of pedal steel against a drone march with steady drumming link together to form a grand soundscape…
Cauliflower puts us back in Earth territory. Pedal steel licks are traded for bluesy lead guitar against a backdrop of menacing post-metal snarl. The six plus minute Journey To The East is a bit like countrified Russian Circles, while the final track Morris is surprisingly the heaviest track on the album, bringing an apocalyptic closer to this sonic frontier odyssey.
With Tongue Of Silver, Lathe have succeeded in making an epic and memorable audio journey across a Wild West that no longer exists yet still feels alive. This is a fantastic instrumental album that is worth a listen. If you enjoy the likes of Earth, Huntsmen, or Bask, you are sure to find a worthy traveling partner for crossing the prairie with Tongue Of Silver.
Scribed by: Rob Walsh