Listening to a good post-metal release is much like taking a long walk in nature or reading a compelling book: cathartic in an entirely non-violent fashion. Whether its black metal’s continuous themes of darkness, sludge wrapped in grimy feedback-heavy riffs or death metal delivering guttural shouts and unparalleled intensity, there’s something cathartic about the brutality of metal.
With post-metal, however, the catharsis comes from its willingness to be emotively expressive and upward-reaching. As the music soars further and further from the mundane reality of everyday life, it reminds you how inconsequential your day-to-day problems really are. Arguably then, the aim of a post-metal album is to distract you, or better yet, transport you to somewhere less boring, and A Sleepless Grey, the new third full-length from Sydney metallers Adrift For Days, succeeds in doing just that.
In truth, the band’s sound is more than your typical post-metal band or Neurosis wannabes. Sure, there are plenty of extensive tracks full of avant-garde splendour and post-metal-meets-doom-metal heaviness, but the Australian quintet also thrive on a psychedelic air of otherworldliness and an effective blend of prog and drone.
One of A Sleepless Grey’s defining features is its masterfully executed production, which favours a bass-heavy style that adds another lay of earth-shuddering oomph to the band’s heavier moments. Such moments can arise at a moment’s notice, as Adrift For Days’ sound is one that drifts between styles as it pleases, always seamlessly. At times, the mood is dark and explosive, utilising heavy-handed fuzz, loud guitars and gargantuan drone, whilst at others it is sombre, gentle even, as it penetrates the darkness – playing with ideas of subtlety, and reflective textures that display a lighter side.
A Sleepless Grey is a poignant album that tugs at your heartstrings and soars high into intergalactic realms, but it is also ruthlessly loud and intense when the setting demands it. As such, it is perhaps Adrift For Days’ best album in all regards: more original, progressive and emotively touching than the band’s previous material, it is also, at times, heavier than anything on 2012’s Come Midnight… or indeed 2010’s The Lunar Maria, showing a level of creative growth worthy of true praise.
A Sleepless Grey is out now on Art As Catharsis. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr