If there’s an heir apparent to Alcest’s Blackened Metalgaze throne, it’s this mysterious Dutch trio, who have delivered an absolutely stunning work of dreary perfection with Only the Ocean Knows — their third LP in as many years. While 2011’s Everything expanded the melancholic genius hinted on with 2010’s Lost, nothing could’ve prepared me for this majestic, tear-drenched flooring. The band continue to evolve their atmospheric assault on hope, soaring far above the confines of the Suicidal Depressive genre and landing in a space all their own. If I could only use one, attention-grabbing sentence to describe them, it’d have to be something along the desperate lines of: “Imagine The Cure playing Black Metal.” Of course that’s a vague statement that doesn’t quite tell the whole story, but not too far away from the truth to work. What it implies is that the band borrows heavily from Shoegaze’s bag of wistful tricks, yet still effortlessly maintain an effective, all-encompassing SDBM aesthetic. The foundation of every track is a throbbing, center-stage bassline a la Pornography, Disintegration, or any Cure album worth its weight in tears, and they also incorporate synth, piano, and clean guitar melodies to maximum depressing effect. Still, these are all just accessories to a wall of necro guitar distortion and tortured Burzumesque screams. The drumming is an exquisitely unique balance of simple time-keeping and adrenaline-fueled aggression. A complete lack of blasting is compensated for by virtuoso footwork, as complex double-bass patterns often fill the space between traditional up-tempo beats and Doomy time signatures. These eight hymns of despair trade passages of somber reflection with bursts of suicidal rage and explosions of slow-motion sadness, all the while narrated by this voice of anguish and torment. Every dynamic anthem of woe is as beautiful and mesmerizing as its predecessor, leading to the saddest moment of all: the last song ending. This is not an album for the well-adjusted. This is not an album for an individual still clinging to even a shred of happiness in this meaningless existence. This isn’t about genre or posturing. This goes beyond any one person’s worthless opinion. If you’re still listening to music with the lights on, you’re missing the point. This is the sound of joy fading. This is a celebration of failure. This is means to find the strength to exit. This is real. At the end of your rope, you’ll find An Autumn for Crippled Children.
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