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A brave if not very successful acoustic foray - 67%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, June 10th, 2017

Couldn't resist giving the time of day to a post-BM band with such a beautiful name as Aloeswood - I must be going mellow in my old age. Aloeswood's most recent recording "Against the Modern World" is also a very lovely work combining neo-folk, ambient and melodic post-BM shoegazer genres to weave a narrative of longing, threaded with melancholy and nostalgia, for contact with and immersion in nature, and finding peace and maybe self-knowledge as a result. BM fans will not find very much hard-hitting gritty aggression here, they'll need to seek out earlier Aloeswood recordings to slake their appetites.

The title track divides into two parts that bookend the EP and they are different tracks musically and in some respects lyrically. Part 1 feels like an extended introduction to the rest of the EP, it's all acoustic guitar melodies over a repeating riff accompanied by hushing ambience and shadowy vocals. "The Waves of Sorrow" is still mostly acoustic guitar but the deep cavernous thumping effects give the track much needed depth and interest of a sinister sort, and a shrill tremolo guitar riff sequence provides contrast and tension. Contrary to what you'd expect, the whispering voices give the track a much harder feel than the lyrics they chant would suggest and I'm not sure that hardness was intended. "Against the Modern World (Part 2)" is the most complex of the three pieces, featuring very pretty melodic folk on woodwind and guitar before breaking out into sinister horns, shrill lead guitar howl and BM vocal rasp.

Individually the tracks don't work well and I am guessing they are all intended to be a trilogy as they work much better as a series of linked tracks. My feeling is they all need to be a bit longer and to have more developed musical and lyrical themes - as they are, they seem like snapshots of a scene or an emotional state at a particular time, and certain feelings and impressions come to the listener's mind, but apart from evoking emotions the music does little else. No resolution of inner tensions or conflicts takes place. The whole recording has something of a static or frozen quality as a result, there's quite a lot of repetition in the music as well and I feel a bit frustrated that such gorgeous sounds and melodies as Aloeswood brings out end up going round and round in circles. The plaintive flute tones on the third track are in danger of sounding flat and banal.

For all that this EP hasn't quite achieved, it's still no mean feat for BM and post-BM bands to try their hand at creating something based entirely around melodic acoustic music which has to derive its power and interest from melody, structural composition and lyrics alone.