Down for some more eclectic tunes? Check out Chicago's progressive blackened death metal band Arriver. Emeritus is a concept album recorded over the last two years focused on the Chernobyl event of 1986. "The despoliation of the land by man's folly is animistically reimagined as the moment of rebirth; establishing in a post-human landscape “...a new Eden, awash in the glow of the sundered atom's rays.”" You may think you understand where this one is headed, but you would be wrong.
There is so much going on here, and it gets confusing...in a good way. I initially snagged this album due to the opening track, "Liquidators," which sounds an awful lot like Enslaved circa Ruun. The slow, meticulous riffage is super proggy and the blackened growls really do conjure more than a passing comparison to Grutle. "The Demon Core" continues to wear these influences on its sleeve while picking up the pace; the drums and guitars' sudden shift in speed cranking up the sense of urgency. Everything about these songs is perfection, though I was ready to write a few notes about lacking originality. But then Emeritus suddenly pressed on in some unexpected ways...
Even within that same track, it stretches on and begins to delve into more of a 90's noise rock sound towards the end. At this point the vague Sonic Youth vibes left me nonplussed as Enslaved have been doing similarly strange, psychodelic unions for some time as well. But then enter "True Bypass," which nearly goes full on Fugazi if not for the continued implementation of the black/death growls. Take those away and we are left with a guitar hook and backing vocals very much worthy of 13 Songs. Maybe if Ur Draugr more of its extreme side it would end up sounding like this. I'm pretty sure I can hear a faint horn section as well? Maybe it's just my confused brain trying to fill in the gaps.
"URSa" pushes on much in this same manner, except we really have abandoned the remaining metal subtext at this point in favor of droning, grungy riffs and hypnotic MacKaye-ish singing. Quicksand and Helmet are other worthy bands of note in terms of what to expect stylistically on these latter portions of the album. It's not until the closing title track that the heaviness makes a return. But make no mistake, I quite enjoyed the more rock-oriented portions of Emeritus. Not only do they help it stand out in a crowd; they are composed well and with transitions that never feel jarring. Somehow the blackened prog and post-hardcore/grunge sections flow from one another seemlessly. This is perhaps best exemplified in the lengthy conclusion where these opposing elements intertwine endlessly over its 13 minutes.
Very interesting album from another band that is more interested in vision than convention. I'll be interested to see where brave and explorative bands like Arriver lead music to in the future. One of my favorite sayings comes to mind: "the only thing constant is change." Don't get married to a particular genre. Contentment is the enemy of invention.