“…the sonic equivalent of helplessly watching a storm develop, destroy everything around you, and finally, assessing the devastation once it has passed.”
So reads the press blurb that accompanies ‘Let The Long Night Fade’, the debut album from London band Row Of Ashes.
It’s a pretty fair analysis actually, but you get the distinct impression that this group really prefer watching the storm gather, wringing every tense moment out of this collection of eight tracks to palpable potency. The waves never fully breaking, but retaining devastating intent throughout. The dynamics being many and varied, but each moment just as tense as the last. Subtlety and anger creating an undulating current of turmoil and despair.
…Is it sludge? Is it drone? Is it post-hardcore?
Not sure, but it’s fucking good, whatever it is.
The trip-hop style of opening title track ‘Let the Long Night Fade’ may surprise, but the Portishead vibe is a fitting way to introduce Eliza Gregory’s vocals, before things kick off big time, which they do in massive droning fashion on ‘The Hunt and The Herd’.
The lullaby beginning of ‘Gravesend’ may also lead you into a false sense of security before things take a sinister turn, and the vox and the relentless riffing raise the fear, while ‘Descending (A Return)’ single-mindedly pushes forth with pure brute force.
The oddly named ’12. 5907786999999987 55. 6852689′ is gentle, but no less disturbing.
The line “Forget your dreams, ‘cos there’s no point. Forget your dreams, they only disappoint” offers little comfort, then things get gnarly (again), with ‘Mass Strandings’ and the crushing ‘Dual Wounds: Limb Fitter’.
The perfect finale is provided by the brooding ‘False Teeth’. It may close the album, but any notions of resolve are left tantalizingly bleak, on an album where the music cannot be faulted and the vocals are truly stunning.
With ‘Let The Long Night Fade’, Row Of Ashes have created a powerful and emotional piece of uneasy-listening, that can proudly stand alongside some of the best sounds that this year has had to offer.
(9/10 Stuart Carroll)