[22nd July 2013]
01. Fear Of Falling
02. We Build Mountains
03. A Thousand Fires
04. Machines (Part 1)
05. Machines (Part 2)
The Sun Explodes are clearly a fan of surprises. Whilst their second album We Build Mountains may be relatively brief, at just 28 minutes long, the band still endeavour to take us on a particularly scenic journey with a number of twists and turns along the way.
The expansive opening track “Fear of Falling” kicks the album off in grandiose style, and when additional layers of orchestration swoop in towards the end, its like being hit in the face with a string quartet. A promising start.
There’s something unmistakably British about this Carlisle-based quintet’s sound. It combines the infectious exuberance of Hundred Reasons with the delicacy and bombast that sit at either end of Muse‘s sonic spectrum, before running it through a filter of modern progressive metal. The net result is not far from being a less technical, more groove-oriented iteration of The Safety Fire. Or, for those with longer serving memories, a heavier Lamb Quartet.
Each of the six full tracks on the album contains an unexpected treat or two lurking somewhere in their meandering structures. The title track, for example, kicks off with a jaggedly catchy and perky riff which re-emerges in the outro at less than half-speed, with devastatingly heavy results. This is all the more remarkable considering the absence of obvious downtuning or dense distortion. Similarly, lead single “SevenThreeOne” culminates in a savage breakdown that is sure to be the envy of many hardcore bands.
The band comfortably handle a multitude of dynamic step-changes, leaping from fragile to feral – or vice versa – in a single beat. They also clearly have a soft spot for unusual time signatures, but this is far from an awkward, or forced listen.
Whilst the musicianship on display is exemplary, the icing on the We Build Mountains cake is in the exceptional vocal performances of Dave Maclachan, supported by guitarists Alex Harris and Alex Adamson – between them, soothing harmonies, soaring melodies, operatic falsettos and throat-ripping growls all make convincing appearances. These vocal elements combine most effectively during “Machines“, where multiple vocal lines weave in and out of each other with relative ease and elevate the majesty of the track to ever greater heights.
Finally, there are a couple of intellectually pleasing moments to highlight, such as impeccable vocalist Maclachan using his most cherubic tones to deliver the line “you are so detestable, but then so am I” and the extract of the John Keats poem “Lamia” serving as both the introduction and apparent lyrical inspiration for the triumphant closer “Serpentine“.
We Build Mountains manages to balance a near-instant accessibility with a depth that rewards repeated listens. The band have said that they would like to extricate themselves from the ‘toilet circuit’ in the coming months – and with songs of this quality at their disposal, that shouldn’t be too big a task for the promising young band.