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Now I Really Want to Learn Slide Guitar - 70%

Thumbman, December 2nd, 2019

If The Cresendo of Dusk feels like a leftovers release, that's because it is. The sole metal song, "The Crescendo of Dusk", was recorded during the Scars of Man sessions and "The Labyrinth" was recorded during the Autumn Eternal sessions. Although I think leaving these songs off their respective albums was for the best, Crescendo is not just a throw-away release. Although the title track is a bit uneven, "The Labyrinth" is very much a worthwhile piece that showcases Austin's non-metal influence.

The main reason I'm happy that "The Crescendo of Dusk" was left off Scars is that it's a fairly inconsistent tune. The melodicism at the start kind of feels run of the mill for what was on Scars and while decent, would have hardly made for a standout moment. The atmospheric middle section doesn't really grab me, and while the glimmering keys, delicate drums and understated clean vocals certainly aren't bad, they also kind of fade into the distance. I'm really glad the song ends the way it does, though - we're treated to a slower melodic riff that is easily the highlight of the track, and the bells in the background is a killer track. While not at all a bad song, I think the biggest issue here is it just did not need to sprawl well past the 13 minute mark.

"The Labyrinth" proves to be the highlight of this EP. As much as I'm worried the ultra-serious nature-imbued poetry type stuff is going to overstay its welcome if Austin pursues it much further, I must admit that his grizzled, deep voice is fucking incredible for narration. We're treated to some nice neo-folk style acoustics with some relaxed bluegrass influence. Austin really has carved out a distinct way of playing the square-necked resonator (a type of slide guitar), and it sounds awesome meandering around in the background; as if an ancient pagan spirit wandering the woods. I'll avoid spoiling it, but the buildup near the end is absolutely killer and 100% makes the song. I don't think it's good he left this off of Autumn Eternal for lack of quality - I just don't think it would have fit into the overall arc of the album.

So there you have it: a long-ass metal song that proves to be fairly inconsistent and an excellent folk one. I've heard a lot worse for leftover EPs. Although the title track is far from Austin's best work, "The Labyrinth" is an excellent little oddity and one I can't recommend enough. This is hardly a place to familiarize yourself with the band, but I reckon the die-hards won't be too disappointed.