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Cowboy Neurosis - 80%

olo, May 30th, 2008

An album that lasts close to 70 minutes you say? Another post-metal band you say? The only reason I pre-ordered this was because the guys were selling it for dirt cheap and it even included an awesome shirt. But the fact is, this turned out to be a really worthy purchase and I've been constantly spinning this since I got it in Feb.

Western Sky Ride is Across Tundras' second full-length, and they have a few things going on that end up giving them their own sound. First of all, they're all about their roots and everything they do is inspired by it. The album art, the inner sleeve is all overflowing with the look and feel of the Western. The music though, can't just be talked about in a simple sentence. Sure, they're influenced by Neurosis but there's a lot more to it. The rhythm playing isn't all that metal. It's fuzzy and noisy, it's progressive and it has a lot of chordal, arpeggiated and single note work going on along with the standard order power chords. There's also a lot of reverb/echo-laden clean and semi-dirty guitars throughout the album to help give them the melancholy and the spacey sound. It's all about intricate guitars but with a psych-jam feel to it. The songs are elaborate and often meandering.

My picks are Carrion Crow, which happens to be one of the names we thought of for a band we were starting, which also happens to also have this awesome metal riff with a damn whistle. Great, but let's just make sure Klaus Meine doesn't hear it and gets influenced to write another platinum hit. Another pick is Song of the Sullen Plains. Fans of the noisy Crazy Horse material might be able to dig this as well. But one should not expect anything like modern day Earth or even the awesome soundtrack that Neil Young provided for the awesome Dead Man. It just isn't that minimalistic, among other things.

I like how the instruments sound individually, but I'm not entirely convinced with the whole sound of this album. I had the same problem with Baroness' latest. Could it be Scott Hull's infamous mastering job that the death metal types keep complaining about? Don't read too much into it because it's only a minor peeve. I liked the way they have the vocals buried in the mix though. The music is all driven by guitars, and these yelling and sombre vocal lines that's made to sound like it comes from deep down in a well, just acts like another instrument for the most part, and it really works with the sound they're gunning for. The album is a tough listen mainly because of its length but it's definitely damn good.

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