I don’t know how many times I’ve heard or read that post metal is dead, nor for how long I’ve been hearing or reading it. Years, definitely. And yet, not only do the bands that are well established in this genre keep playing, new post metal bands are constantly forming. ryr from Berlin, Germany, are such a newly-formed post metal band. Founded in 2018, they now present their debut album Left Fallow.
“Ryr” is Icelandic and means barren, sparse or weak. Why does a German band need an Icelandic name? Where is the connection? That’s not entirely clear. Maybe they chose that name, because barren and sparse is “karg” in German, and there already is a band with that name. Or maybe it’s because Iceland’s vast, empty and cold landscapes and harsh natural conditions are a good representation of the band’s soundscapes. The album’s name certainly points in that direction. But why then does the album cover feature man-made, grey-in-grey concrete structures and not empty, Nordic landscapes? You see, I’m a bit confused here.
In any case, ryr, together with many other band’s out there, are defying the claim that post metal is dead. Left Fallow features the well know combination of spherical sounds and crushing, heavy riffage, maybe a bit colder than usual, but Long Distance Calling definitely come to mind.
All in all, Left Fallow is a pleasant, though somewhat sobering listen, conjuring up images of scenes devoid of people, of glaciers, grinding ice, wind and night, but also of fire, natural forces and chain reactions. It’s sobering, because the listener’s thoughts about nature are quickly joined by thoughts about the threat humankind presents to its delicate harmony, and maybe that’s the connection that the album cover draws.
ryr are, indeed, very good at creating a cold, serene atmosphere and then disturbing it with heavy riffage. However, that concept is employed repeatedly and so efficiently that it wears out a bit towards the end of the album. There is also one odd detail, which caught my ear with every run through: On the fourth track, Vanished, around the five-minute mark, a somewhat oriental-sounding, recurring guitar riff is added. To my ears it seems a bit out of place, because I cannot see how the North and the Orient would be connected here.
To conclude: Left Fallow is not bad at all; an enjoyable, meditative listen, but the album really features nothing new, nothing you haven’t heard before if you are into post metal. So, while it is quite obvious that the genre isn’t dead, it’s also similarly obvious that it’s treading water.