Brontide is a power trio in every sense of the term. The group centers around Tim Hancock’s looping guitars, crafting a complex latticework of riffs-on-riffs which on their first album, Sans Souci, created an eclectic, hard to define sound. Start with some Enemies-like interweaving melodies, occasionally growing into to heavy, perhaps even Kylesa-esque sludge, all the while guided by El Ten Eleven’s incisive ear for looped song construction. Then wrap all that up in one of the tightest and most judicious modern rock bassist (Nathan Fairweather) and drummer (William Bowerman) teams playing today, and you’ve got yourself something like where Brontide left us hanging. In Artery, we hear what happens when an already innovative, multi-dimensional rock trio gives themselves ample time (almost three years!) to develop and reflect on their unusual toolset and disparate influences, to mature into and beyond their previous goals. They took it slowly and conscientiously, and boy does it show.
Their follow up album lays bare what has been at the heart of Brontide this whole time, but has been too easy to miss in all the great sounding riffage – there is smart, compelling songwriting, right at the heart of everything these musicians do. It took me a good while of listening to their previous record to notice how great the songwriting is, how subtly tight the band is, and how beautifully and deceptively simple their harmonic goals could be. Less is more, after all, even in this progressive, envelope-pushing, and genre-intermingling musical playground of the Information Age. As I settled into Artery, I figured I ought to pay special attention to these more understated components, to pick out the trees while joyfully drowning in the forest. But, I am pleased to report, Brontide know themselves even better than we do, and have the wisdom to draw compositional tension from the interplay between their subtle strengths and their overwhelming ones.
Artery continually surprises and deceives, alternately paying off with moments of relatively unadorned beauty when we’re expecting a driving hook, pounding out heavy Mastodon-style climaxes just as you’ve given up hoping for something bestial, and treading confidently through previously unexplored electronic and post-rock textures to string it all together. Each song occupies different, complementary spaces, creating a wide sense of self-exploration and experimentation across this carefully conceived and executed album. Refreshing, invigorating and beautiful, Artery is out on June 30th, and has absolutely been worth the wait.
Instrumental, post rock, math rock, hardcore, looping, progressive, heavy effects, sludge