Saturday, 16 August 2014

Sorxe - Surrounded By Shadows (Album Review)

Album Type: Album
Date Released: Sept 02nd 2014
Label: Self Released

Surrounded By Shadows - track listing:

1. Steamroller
2. Her Majesty
3. Join Us
4. Smoke Signals
5. Make It So
6. Creeper Beast
7. Made To Suffer
8. Surrounded By Shadows
9. The Mountain Man

Band Members

Shane Ocell - Drums
Tanner Crace - Guitar , Vox , Synth
Christopher Coons - Bass

Roger Williams - Bass


Sorxe are a four piece post-metal Goliath who formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 2012. Yeah that's right...I said post-metal! You got a problem with that? Like Neurosis you say? Maybe. Do they listen to ISIS? Probably. Are they any good...In a word, yes.

Anyway...enough pissing about.

The opening track is aptly named 'Steamroller'. It's heavy, really heavy. A simple pounding riff drags you in and stamps all over you, while the vocals sway between angry as hell and a cleaner, more ethereal sound. Flutters of stoner-rock inspired guitar tails make the continued riff more interesting. The pace slows, the drums become more oppressive, the whole song changes in to something else, a progression that makes sense as it moves towards a spaced out passage. Then we're off again. Things remain aggressive until the last second. Stand-out track indeed! A good way to start an album.

Track two 'Her Majesty' has a post-hardcore feel. The vocals are more pronounced from the off. Weird guitar noises pulsate until the riff builds, accompanied by a tribal drum pattern. Then we get handed another riff, this one seems to have come from the Mastodon school of metal. The music moves between these two elements until we're introduced to a dark, blues infused breakdown. It doesn't take long for the heavy to resurface and lead us out.

Cue drum intro...'Join Us'. The first few seconds almost feels like we're about to listen to The Dillinger Escape Plan, then it gets all heavy-doom-like and yet ANOTHER change in to a clean passage, with some mono-tonal chanting vocals that wouldn't be out of place on a Shrinebuilder album. I almost jumped when the agro returned with angular precision. The lead out is just noise but I like the way it made my head buzz. Pretty strange stuff.

Then comes 'Smoke Signals'. A stunning instrumental sound-scape full of cleverly crafted echoes, distant noises and crescendos. The powerful riffs that sit between each passage are truly massive. This is probably the most post-metal track on the album but I think it's pretty damn epic.

'Make It So' is an unusual hybrid of crust, post-hardcore and avant-garde metal. Again, there are lots of changes but they don't seem to have as dramatic an effect as they do in earlier tracks. There is yet another mellow section but by this point in the tune I had lost some enthusiasm....until they lay down an enormous sludge apocalypse! The last couple of minuets pulled me back on board.

Track number 6 'Creeper Beast' is introduced with a low-mid synth pulse that lasts just a few seconds until a palm muted chug arrives alongside a spitting vocal line. There's a short breather, then the first climax wave; drums introduce a down-tempo metal riff that quickly ends in dead silence. I kinda wish the track ended there but wave number two comes along and makes little sense (to me anyway). I feel the band started to get a little lost....I know I did.

'Made To Suffer' was just odd. All sorts of ideas thrown together, no real direction here. Some of the heavier passages were pretty cool but it took all my will power not to keep skipping the track for fear of losing my mind.

Title track 'Surrounded By Shadows' starts off with some very nice atmospherics. A swelling bass line sits behind controlled feedback, distant washes and cymbal rolls. It darkens as it progresses. On first listen I thought it would go somewhere on it's own but it serves more as an introduction to the closing track.....

.'The Mountain Man'. I felt we were back on target. Sorxe hang back, then unleash a volley of powerful brick wall riffs and reverb soaked lead. I was satisfied. The outro was an anticlimax but where else would they go? I'm not really sure.

Sorxe have their own ideas. Their sound is more than post-metal by numbers. They didn't just regurgitate 'Through Silver In Blood' or steal riffs from 'Panopticon'. You can obviously hear the influences burned in to the minds of the musicians when they listened to such important pieces of work. There's simply no getting away from the fact that a small handful of bands have left a mark on almost everything that came after. Sorxe have created something all their own, it's not perfect and I could easily pick out more than one track that I would probably skip while listening to this album in my ivory tower. but each part has it's place and adds to the experience. Don't believe me? Go listen to the leaked track over at Cvlt Nation for a taste of the sludgy nectar.

Written by Keeran Williams

Thanks to Earsplit PR for sending us a promo to review. Surrounded By Shadows will be available to buy from Sept 02nd 2014.

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