Snowblood is not a GI Joe character, it is not a mythical beast, nor is it an awesome Marvel comic book character. Snowblood is a band from Glasgow, who play larger than life songs, epic in both towering height and vast width. Yes, I said epic. Not unlike mythical beasts, superheroes or GI Joe (Storm Shadow especially). Snowblood is also a little schizophrenic and prone to bouts of extreme beauty, extreme desolation, to bouts of extreme tension and release, to bouts of extreme walls of crushing distortion and extreme metal. Snowblood is a love of extremes.
Disappearance is an intro of sorts, though more of an intro that is 8 minutes long, starting off formless and hazy before locking into a few key melodies. The melodies disappear into a haze before reforming as a solid song, with beautiful harmonized singing and somberish progressive rock feel.
The beauty is over after that. Aubade begins with a sinister melody that quickly forms into a tensions building piece that echoes the best Slinty moments that Mogwai ever pulled off (ahem, Like Herod...). The spoken word vocals with the Scottish accent also give it that similar appeal. With a sudden drop off and a few screams the whole thing veers into the pit of a volcano. A gigantic eviscerating juggernaut of blackened molten lava, twin shredded vocals and immense gut lurching pyroclastic flow. There is no way out, and once over the initial shock of being tossed into a flaming pit of slowmotion death, you realize youve got yourself a pretty awesome sludge fest on your hands. The comparisons to early Neurosis and Isis (particularly Celestial) are inevitable but in no way unwelcome. Its been a long time since either of those bands have truly crushed our heads with tribal fury, but Snowblood bring the beatings, and right after a truly wonderful double entedred opening - the framing of the whole event is fresh and wholly different than before. The song ends with the repeated words, "I know, because I've seen it with my own eyes. Im the Witness...". Great ending to a great opening, and the album continues to get better from their.
Out of Harm's Way mirrors some of the same sentiments of the first songs peak, with more melodic vocals, both somber and beautiful, and again the song has a sprawl of subtle build and repetition, knowing how much is for good effect and how much is enough before bringing a progression, and I think the vocals go a long way to helping that cause. Things dont remain static for long, and as the song builds steam it cultivates an awesome riff before completely opening the flood gates to another molten flow of distortion. This is easily one of the highlights of the album.
Call off the Search slowly builds like its predecessor, though arrives at its crushing destination quicker, and leaves us off on Year of the Bastard which is essentially a mind eraser of seriously bassed out distortion crazed grind metal song with nothing but the most furious of intentions. Its pretty good, and eases up some of the tension built up previously. Call Off the Search and Year of the Bastard function like good radio programming should run, they break up the flow before sameness comes to ruin the party.
From here the album is of Godspeed You! Black Emperor-like proportions. Taking the dynamics further in every direction and giving themselves space to stretch out all that they have gone over before, these final three songs function as the outpouring. Young, Black Stars Over Glasgow and Appearance. If the previous part of the album was a Statement of Intent, then these three tracks are the final delivered product.
I am not even gonna spoil it for you. Ive already told you too much. Snowblood takes all the best parts of their sound and arrange them in such a way to scale the walls of their forefathers and meet them head on. Some may not have the patience, as the last three songs total a half hour in length, but some will find immense beauty and harrowing visions from these final songs. Either way, Snowblood has gone out on a limb and produced one of the most interesting records in a genre (Post-Rock, Instrumental, Metal) that has for a while clung to the same old tricks.
They apparently are releasing a third record sometime in the near future and I am very excited to see what this amazing band does next.