Monday, 2 February 2015

Rise Above Dead - Heavy Gravity (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/1/2015
Label: Moments of Collapse | Shove Records

‘Heavy Gravity’ DD//LP track listing:

1). The Last Migration
2). Mountain of the Divine
3). By The Lights
4). Heavy Gravity
5). The Lone Tower
6). March of the Locusts


Rise Above Dead, once a five piece, lost their singer and rather than putting together a contest or role call for a new singer, decided to go forth as a four piece without vocals. For those who have been following the band, this new album, “Heavy Gravity,” might therefore take some getting used too, because of how much space and atmosphere their vocalist once filled. So the band made a bold decision to embark on the well trodden path by other heavy psych bands, but preparing themselves for both critique and accolades by doing so.

The critique lies mostly in the parts that sound as though they were made to be complimented by singing. It is understandable, and certainly forgivable, that a band who once wrote songs with a singer may have a tough time writing songs without one. This is the case with Rise Above Dead as they are inconsistent at holding the attention of the listener from start to finish. But it is not for lack of trying, the band presents themselves with confidence and when they shine, they shine bright.

“Mountain of the Divine” moves into “By The Lights” with a rough transition but both capture a dark, spacey vibe in their own right, highlighting the potential Rise Above Dead has as an instrumental band. The former does so with a constant waterfall of down strummed minor chords and the latter with layers of clean and distorted guitars, eventually getting caught in something that resembles a chorus. A snazzy wah-drenched guitar solo follows which breaks into something more traditionally metal, making this song the album’s stand-out. Following closely on its heels is the title track whose tipping point is its upbeat finale and how it transitions into its successor.

The slow gallop of “The Lone Tower” bodes well, beginning with a static choke hold before being liberated by a change of tempo. “March of the Locust” is up for the task of tying the album together and delivers in spades. It starts out dangerously similar to Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” but continues down a path of rolling, raucous drumming, a steady driving bass line, and though dramatic, the guitars don’t necessarily take center stage. Instead, “March of the Locust” is rhythmically driven, leaning more on developing a steady groove rather than an onslaught of noise, which might have been what the band would have chosen for, had their been a singer in the mix.

Rise Above Dead have taken such a different approach this time out and that made for curious anticipation during the lead-up to the album’s release. The issue is a particular level of expectation, and Rise Above Dead ultimately do satisfy that by demonstrating just how heavy gravity can be. Give this album a spin, try and forget about where the band came from, and allow space for the setting that the band is currently trying to place themselves in. Only then can the album be appreciated for just how tasty it is. 

Words by: Victor van Ommen

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