22nd January 2016 - Debemur Morti Productions
02. Body Within A Body
05. In Rushes Bound
Over the course of their two album, one EP career to date, Latitudes have firmly established themselves as reliable purveyors of interesting, atmospheric, mostly instrumental post-metal. Their last album, 2012′s Individuation, saw the band really come of age and now the quintet have returned with seven new songs in the form of Old Sunlight, their first release on Debemur Morti.
Latitudes have not felt compelled to tinker too much with the basic formula established on those previous releases, making it feel like familiar territory for existing fans right from the introductory tones of album opener “Ordalian“. Instead, the band have clearly focused their attentions in their three year absence on putting that well-honed sound to the best possible use.
The real key to the distinctive nature of Latitudes sound lies in a pair of artfully constructed conflicts. The first of these is the juxtaposition of fast-picked guitar lines that are restrained by the slower undercurrents of the drumbeats and chord progressions. This infuses the tracks with a kind of nervous urgency, with the guitars almost feeling like they are straining at the leash. This skittishness is further augmented through the deft use of some wonky time signatures and dropping from the higher registers into huge, rolling waves of low-strung chug and off-kilter stabs. The deviations from a straight beat mean that it takes a good couple of spins before Old Sunlight starts properly making sense, but it’s well worth the time and effort to let these songs really sink in.
The second of these two conflicts lies in periodically overlaying these broodingly heavy, textured riffs with Adam Symonds‘ delicate and ethereal vocals. Gracing less than half of Old Sunlight with his presence, he helps Latitudes obtain the best of both worlds, neatly side-stepping the problem of maintaining the listener’s attention that plagues many purely instrumental bands over the span of a full-length release. His first appearance on “Body Within A Body” sees the track break down to just Symonds’ mournful voice and an organ, before piling back in for a tumultuous finale, perfectly showcasing the bands strong command of dynamics.
Elsewhere, “Gyre” is a relentless volley of riffing, “Amnio” provides a brief, ominous yet almost ambient respite, and “In Rushes Bound” carries more of an overtly Isis (not that one) meets Amenra vibe. “Quandary” brings Old Sunlight to a slightly surprising conclusion, feeling more like an interlude than a coda, but the net effect is that it practically compels an immediate replay of the whole thing. With just seven tracks and a forty-five minute duration, Old Sunlight is well balanced and stripped free of any chaff or filler.
It’s possible that no single track on Old Sunlight quite scales the same heights as Individuation’s “Imitation Ruin“, but the overall quality of the album is almost certainly the highest yet. The knack that Latitudes have of crafting smooth lines out of jagged constituent parts is bewitching to the point of hypnotic. Somehow conjuring up an atmosphere that is simultaneously gloomy and uplifting, they draw from multiple points on the post-metal spectrum to produce an instantly recognisable and deeply satisfying collection of songs that will delight longstanding fans and provide an effective and tantalising gateway to new ones.
Old Sunlight is quite possibly the first genuinely great album of 2016, so go and lose yourself in it.