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keep it up you beautiful bastards - 85%

RapeTheDead, December 6th, 2019

Just in time for me to randomly stumble upon their debut album in a “used metal” section at a CD store, Glare of the Sun have a new album out. What initially seemed like a album made of simple, sparse and mediocre elements of doom and Isis-y post-metal slowly turned into a captivating, monolithic piece that somehow creates huge atmosphere out of next to nothing. There were some stripped-down, amateuristic features present, but it used them to their advantage to convey rawer emotions. As a fresh convert to the Glare of the Sun clan, I’m pretty stoked to hear Theia.

Right away, you get the sense the band wanted to take another step into more professional realms. Theia immediately lacks the gritty underbelly of Soil, with a much warmer surface sound and instruments more balanced in the mix. The band introduces bleeding layers at an uneven rate, with haunting echoes, drifting clean chords, and the occasional bit of cymbal play seeping in and out freely. The songwriting is much more fluid and has a bit more back-and forth as opposed to the stark, singular hypnotism of their preceding album. It impacts you a bit differently than Soil; on that album, riffs would burst in and fade abruptly. In some ways it’s less immediately powerful, but in other ways the smoother interplay between instruments lets the melodies breathe and slowly slip into your brain while you only half-notice. There’s much less repetition, or at the very least it feels like riffs are being repeated less because they’re layering multiple things over them as opposed to keeping them minimal.

The shift in songwriting approach was likely necessitated by how much more active Theia is in general. I’m not sure if the drummer decided to change up his style drastically or what, but he feels a lot more playful and less confined on this album, with a lot more time spent on the cymbals and putting little accents on the mellow clean parts. The vocals have progressed drastically as well. Before, it sounded like he was using lots of whisper vocals and growls to cover up a lack of good tone, but there’s moments like the tail end of “IV” where he really shows off his chops and it works. In general, he sounds much more loose and varied in his growling than before as well. It may have been an artistic choice, because he’s always had a very throaty, decipherable rasp, and it sounds like that’s just being emphasized. His vocals are more frequent as well. Everything’s just been expanded on a little bit - the guitars have a lot more detail during the lighter moments, but they still kept a few of those big, booming chords that underscored the success of their previous album. Honestly, I think it’s just that so few bands can do that thing where you just play a fat chord once every few bars and have it hit hard the way that Glare of the Sun can do. The way this band utilizes space in their music is so incredibly effective, it’s actually kind of a shame that there’s less space in Theia, what with the more detailed approach to riff-writing in general. Even though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the extra details, it does lose some of the things that made Soil so special for me, although that’s a very personal preference.

When I’m nitpicking details between albums, you can tell I don’t have a lot to critique - Theia more or less satisfied my expectations, being a slighlty more expansive and multi-pronged take on the crushing sound they discovered on their debut. More people need to get into this bad, especially if you like atmospheric, posty stuff. Forget about flowery crap like Falls of Rauros, Glare of the Sun has a sense of melody equally as rich and covers a lot more ground, all while letting you pause for a second to take it all in.