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With The Ties that Blind, Mouth of the Architect have positioned themselves as frontrunners in the Isis-style post-metal race. The album succeeds on multiple levels, something many releases in this genre fail to do: it is at times amazingly heavy, sublimely melancholic and majestically beautiful.
The first thing that stands out about The Ties that Blind is the overt post-rock influences in so many of the songs. The openings to "No One Wished To Settle Here," and "Harboring an Apparition," would not be out of place on an Explosions in the Sky disc; what makes them unique here is how well they seamlessly blend with the heavier Oceanic-style riffing. The clean ringing guitars in "No One Wished..." are not unnecessary or over-indulgent, and rather than detracting from the song and making it a stylistic mishmash, they give the song a truly sad veneer, lending the song a true arc during its fifteen minute plus run time. There are likewise nods to Pelican and Mogwai, also done in a way to be more homage than retread. The assimilation of disparate musical elements is what makes metal interesting and this is particularily the case here.
The second remarkable thing about this album is how well it flows together without each song sounding the same. Each song has its own feeling and identity, from the heavy riffing of "At Arms Length," to the slow crescendo of "Wake Me When it's Over." It is impossible to imagine the tracks played in any other order, and there is no unnecessary filler in between the songs, something that plagues many albums and bands playing this style of pseudo-
orchestral guitar-centric post-metal.
The third, and possibly best thing about this album, is how good some of the individual songs are, considered apart from the other tracks. "No One Wished..." is the centerpiece of the album, a massive track that begins in post-rock ambivalence, morphs into seriously heavy melancholic guitar shredding (with a main riff any band would be glad to claim as their own), progresses into an impassioned middle section full of soaring guitars and roaring vocals(again anchored by the same awesome riff), a brief respite of clean strummed chords, that finally plays itself out with the same guitars that opened the song. It is a truly majestic song and makes a great centerpiece to great album.
Over all, this is a great album, not just for what it is, but also for what it isn't; there are no overlong wandering interludes, no clean vocals, no instrumental tracks, and no token breakdowns. Instead what the listener is presented with is an intense album of midtempo heaviness tempered with elegant post-rock guitars, a style that when done well is infinitely listenable.