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I finished the review for Renounce with this small play on words to provide for an interesting punchline, but as a matter of fact this is the perfect title for the next step in POG's career. This is indeed a process of erosion; erosion of your wounds, erosion of your sorrow, erosion of your soul...This is an album that heightens even more the already high standards that the band put themselves on with their debut album. This is an amazing follow-up to Renounce and it virtually obliterates it! Much like the passage from shadow into light that was their first album this one is also a journey, but one that dwells into the heart of the light and all its refracting elements. How many colours are there in the whole visible spectrum? How many more are there beyond the visible realm that we can't even see, but just feel? This is an album of feelings and not recommended for the ones who just want to shed a tear or for those who want a passing thing. This album melds with your soul and becomes part of it, so if you want to try it be advised that it will probably be stuck with you for a long time!
But enough with all the analogies, what about the music present here? Has the band shifted so much in only three years? The answer is both yes and no. No the band didn't leave its formula of composition behind, but instead they've refined it. No they haven't lost the atmospheric touch they had, they just perfected it. In not so many words, they took the best of Renounce and transformed it into an even bigger anthem, one that's divided in two parts and six movements.
Starting where we were left off, "Dust" begins the hostilities in very much the same vein you would be expecting it to do so. Everything on this song screams Renounce, but you'll notice immediately that there are some differences. For starters the drum sound that now isn't as abrasive and piercing as it was, but instead works more like the marching beat that sets the tone. The cymbals have a much clearer sound and go really well with this new approach they use, with the dual guitars also sharing more similar fields instead of contradicting each other like on Renounce. The drums are the driving force here providing for some great rolls and fills that make this more distinguishable from Renounce, always going for more complex rhythms and patterns instead of just keeping the same pace and adding a bit of double bass here and there. Hugo's voice also seems more throaty and not so full on guttural as before. The comparisons between both albums are inevitable, and despite them sharing the same elements it's on the approach to composition that the two vary greatly. While Renounce is a a grimmer old-school influenced death/doom album Erosion proves to be much more than that, something that people have dubbed (wrongly or not) as post-doom.
Now I despise the term and I also think that the "post" prefix is really misused in the music field, especially nowadays. But I have to admit that this is much more than a simple doom album. I mean the amount of melodic leads, atmospheric build-ups, complex drumming and variety in each and every song make this a noteworthy album that is sometimes hard to classify. Also add the fact that the first part is divided in five movements that extend for 50 minutes, making this album develop like and ever flowing stream. Just notice the transition onto "Waves" and you'll see what I'm talking about. Here is where the more minimalistic tone begins to be more present and more easily noticed. Their trademark of loud/soft sections is again put to great use with the drums providing for an amazing ambience. The song seem to get a progressive edge, with the rhythm section working to great avail. The first high point reaches with the apex of "Waves" and its transition to "Corrosion", leading you deeper into the the belly of the beast as this is where the band spits forth its more aggressive song of the whole album. The spacey riffs that layer the song are just amazing and the breakdowns into the slower sections just serve to show that the doom roots are still very much present in the band's compositions. This is one of the best songs here and it provides for over nine minutes of intense riffing and pounding aggression. The middle section is amazing and has a tremolo picked riff that keeps being repeated along with the same drum pattern at a slow cadence, turning into a immersing wall of sound that just tears you apart and runs you over like molten lava.
Wall of sound is a good way to describe this album actually, as it picks up on old school death/doom and twists it in a way not dissimilar to what Neurosis would make (and those who know me understand how much praise this is), but without the assumed tribal drumming and the hardcore influences. There are parts here that are full-on Neurosis worship but the roots of doom are never out of the equation, they are just shadowed by foreign elements that are greatly combined to form an immense and very layered sound that just hits you in the most cathartic way possible!
As I've already said, the first five movements are all part of the same song that's divided this way. They all flow as a single composition and all have their brilliant parts, sometimes even reaching strokes of genius. Another good example of this would be "Abandon" which might be the best song they ever wrote! Much like "Becoming Light" on their debut, this is a song to be heard and an absolute climax for the first part of the album. "Abandon all hope...Abandon all lies...Abandon all reason...Abandon all life...", Hugo spills out in the most sorrowful way, signalling the end of your journey through the chaos and beauty that is the first part of this album. If the album just ended here it would sound complete and whole, but another surprise is held for you as the second song bursts in, acting as a gateway for their next work and leaving you with a sense of completeness but at the same time with the certainty that the voyage will continue. The play on words is also done by the band here with "The Circle" acting as an entity of its own, being at the same time the amalgamation of the first five songs and the last song, acting as alpha and omega, beginning and end. But as I've said already the journey doesn't end here and the band makes sure that we understand that.
I already gave this album what could be the biggest praise I can ever give to a band, which is to say that they use a similar approach to Neurosis and that they do it right. I know for a fact that Hugo is an assumed Godflesh fan, probably by extension a Jesu fan also so all things considered it seems like we might have another band for the ages with POG. They are honestly speaking one of the more talented bands this country has nowadays, and I'll be damned if their next album isn't absolutely perfect. They've been constantly improving and showing how great musicians they are, and even more important, that they can write amazing songs! They are without a doubt a band to check, even if you don't like doom. This is very close to perfection and I can say without a shred of doubt that I'll buy their next album without even hearing it, as I expect it to be an absolute masterpiece!!
I hope you've enjoyed this detour to the southern plains of my country as it probably showed you some interesting works. I have POG in the highest of regards, both as musicians and as down to earth persons, and I can't recommend them enough. Next stop on the Portuguese scene?! Who knows? Only time will tell...As for now I'll let myself erode a bit more until my soul travels with the wind.
Process of Guilt's second album is a true display of raw power, and most importantly it shows that the band is starting to define their own sound. Taking a slightly less melodic approach, and choosing a more "funeral doom-esque" path, they no longer sound like any band I've listened to. Currently, they're somewhere between doom/death and funeral doom.
Like the previous album, there are calm parts, where Hugo sings in a clean voice (almost feels like he's speaking), and then there are the heavy parts, where he uses some excellent and powerful growls, in the midst of heavily distorted guitars. Drumming is great and slow, as it would be expected from this sort of record, and it goes really well with the bass lines, much more noticeable during the calm parts.
Although the clean/calm parts are still present, they're less frequent, but they're very well placed. They're located between long, slow and powerful riff barrages, that made me feel in the middle of some kind of twisted and weird natural catastrophe, with earthquakes, tsunamis and tornados. I wouldn't call it apocalypse, but something that would definitely "erode" the Earth's surface. It really pleases me to see a band that has it's roots in genres that are usually evil, macabre and depressing, doing something completely different from what could be expected.
About the songs, I really have to highlight "Dust (Circle Part I)", as it is the single most awesome album opener ever. It's the perfect introduction to the destruction that will ensue. Other than that, it doesn't feel right to break them down into separate songs, because they work together really well, they feel like a single song. Don't get me wrong, it's not repetitive and the tracks don't sound the same, the transition between the songs simply isn't very noticeable unless you're really paying attention.
Still, there is a small problem with this album... It's a little short. It's only 50-60min long, and such a great album deserved another song. This, of course, is a very small issue, and most people might even ignore it, but I felt I had to have some sort of problem with it, or it would be another 100% score and I might be considered a "fanboy" for that.
That being said, this is definitely worth the time and the money, I'd even be willing to pay more for it (which is why I bought the T-shirt with it). Check out their MySpace, or the album itself, if you can.