It’s often with trepidation when the esteemed lord of this manor, the cruel overseer of Ave Noctum’s darkest corridors and keeper of the beasts, suggests that this may be something that’s right up your alley sunshine. Not that he used those words, but you get the general drift that he has you pegged when it comes to your particular predilections for our distinctly different seasonings of the heavy music, we all love. And although I have never heard of Italian post metal peddlers Calendula (shite name by the way as it’s making me think of sugar substitutes that you may put in your coffee or tea) as the first drones of music enter my earholes on this 25 minute EP, I can see why this has fallen into my calloused hands.
If you can set aside their decidedly shite moniker, this is an OK stab at a genre of music that is not what I would consider overcrowded per se, but it is stuffed to the gills with protagonists that are at the top of their game (or were if they hadn’t split up) and thus the bar is set incredibly high and to make a dent into the say, top 10 of this genre, you’re going to have to be very, very fucking good indeed. To set the scene this is what you would consider to be post hardcore, post metal, post box (just kidding…come on that was funny?!) post just about anything which in laymen’s terms means that Calendula have taken all the best elements of what has gone before, repackaged it and attempted to improve on it.
So, in terms of direct comparisons this has much in common with scene luminaries such as Russian Circles, Mogwai, ISIS the Band and The Ocean but without propensity towards metal riffs. It’s all very expansive, broad and shimmering which is fine when you arrive at a conclusion that pays off and that’s usually a denouement that ratchets up the heaviness, slams down the riffs and leaves everyone coated in the afterglow of a job well done. This, unfortunately, does not. It lumbers around like a sloth with a sprained ankle, not quite wanting to commit to a riff as it slips past the listener like a ghostly presence from the UK shoegazing scene in the mid 1990’s. In fact, this is a little like Ride with slightly shoutier vocals. I just kept hoping it would segue into something a little more tangible and for want of a better word…heavy. But it doesn’t and despite their best intentions and half decent start to the EP, it just peters out and fades away into the darkness, like a puff of smoke from a birthday cake candle. I also don’t like the vocals which is never a good thing. Again, like the music on offer here in general, it doesn’t seem to want to commit, seemingly a little half assed, a little underproduced and lacking a pair of balls. It also sounds like it was recorded in a cave, full of bat shit, plastic bags, used condoms, an abandoned pair of pants and empty bottle of Scotch.
It’s not ‘terrible’ by any stretch of the imagination, it just lacks a bit of substance and when you’re releasing something that was recorded in 2016, I would suggest that even the band themselves don’t have any confidence in it also. In the space Calendula are playing, in purely musical terms, there are, unfortunately for them, far, far better bands doing this with much better songs and production.
(4/10 Nick Griffiths)