Hailing from Lille, France, Glowsun are a psychedelic stoner rock trio who are predominantly an instrumental band. Opting to allow the music to be the main focus, the lack of vocals really helps set the trio apart as they sling their hypnotic tracks which have some doom and drone-ish undertones to them. Following up their second album, “Eternal Season”, their first on Napalm Records, we are invited to step “Beyond The Wall Of Time” for their third full length.
Right from the go, the first thing which stands out about “Beyond The Wall Of Time” is the band’s ability to create such a great atmosphere and sonic landscape. The eerie ticking clock, swelling synths and steady heartbeat sample starts the opening track “Arrow Of Time” which shifts from a powerful sounding, slow crushing pace to some real quick stoner/retro rock groove feel, like a beefier sounding Kyuss. Clever use of phrasing, timing and effects help keep the listener engaged through the nine minute epic and the following track is more of the same. “Last Watchmaker’s Grave” has a very spaced out sounding intro, the highlight of which is a hypnotic bassline which swells in volume and is augmented by swelling cymbals and delay soaked pickslides. The surreal start gives way to a real jarring feel before it takes on a very early 70’s proto-metal feel, similar to that of Early Black Sabbath and the mighty Blue Öyster Cult. Slipping between the heavy sections and the more retro sections, the highlight is the clean break which really adds a surreal feel to the song before the heavy section explodes to life once again and the song eventually ends on a big rock n roll ending with frantic instrument playing.
“Behind The Moon” opts for a more unsettling, sinister sound to start with before it turns to a more Tool-like song in terms of its flow and groove. Big riffs, fantastic basslines and the switches from groove to frantic to retro keep the momentum of the track going and the distinct switches in style work wonderful when they happen. “Flower Of Mist” is more subtle in its intro with gradually swelling in volume samples accompanying a drone-feel bassline, steady drums and a haunting clean melody from the guitar. This is then followed by what can best be described as shameless worshipping at the altar of the master of riffing (Tony Iommi for those who may be uninformed!). The huge Iommi like riffs hit with such power for their steady pace. The simple chord progression speeds up as the song goes on and gets more intense and when the bass takes the lead, its fuzzed out buzzing sound is great. Galloping basslines under the solo and heavy frantic feel riffs into a huge mammoth sized groove to end the track really make this one stand out.
“Shadow Of Dreams” has a real heavy, headbang feel riff which comes in after a wail of feedback before the clean section comes in. Hypnotic sounding drums and bass with a similar guitar line with some little differences to add flavour to the track takes over and the track switches between the heavy distortion and the clean sections. There are some great stoner rock feel riffs and interesting uses of the wah pedal on this one, but for all its murky sounding grooves, this track isn’t as strong as the previous ones. “Against The Clock” opens up clean with a very similar sounding riff to the intro of ‘Moksha’ by My Sleeping Karma. The simple clean guitar and bass with gradually building drums creates a sense of anticipation and the clean guitar melody has that eastern flair to it, something which sounds like it came out of the Billy Duffy guitar line book. This track is the exception to the album as it actually has vocals on it. The vocals sound rather spaced out. Heavily reverbed, the slight monotone delivery and short lines over the murky sounding groove laden riffs works quite well, giving the song a slightly ominous feel which is rather apt given the title. It gets more powerful as it goes on with some more Iommi-esque riffs and when the pace picks up the headbanging groove is great. The lead in this track sounds good too and it has that Iommi like feel to it with the short, sharp and controlled delivery. As the song continues, it suddenly comes to an abrupt halt and is replaced with the ticking clock sample once again which transitions into the final track, “Endless Caravan” which is more like a refrain for the previous track than a standalone track. With hypnotic work from the rhythm section and a spaced out guitar melody which comes and goes, it wraps the album up but doesn’t really do it justice as a closing track.
After walking “Beyond The Wall Of Time”, it’s safe to say that it’s a very surreal place. The first two tracks are fantastic and the riffing in ‘Flower Of Mist’ is tremendous. Clever use of dynamics, samples, effects and simplicity make for a real good album which has the drawback of starting off strong then finishing rather tamely. Sometimes the overuse of effects is distracting and the reliance on the wah pedal borders on Kirk Hammet levels, but those are the only complaints I have with this record. Climb the wall, go beyond it and see for yourself.