Beneath a Steel Sky’s self titled debut is out on September 4th.
I can’t put my finger on it, but Scotland and atmospheric post-rock seem to go hand in hand. It could be the landscape or our sunny disposition- but something about thumping guitars and cinematic overtures just screams Scotland.
Cinematic is the best word I can think of to describe the opening track from Glasgow post-rock/metal artists Beneath a Steel Sky. With the slowly picked guitar and swelling synths, you feel as though you should be driving slowly up a winding highland road to escape your past while a camera pans over a bothy. ‘I AM A FREE I AM NOT MAN A NUMBER’ is a delightfully named track which reminds us that this imagery was just a pipe dream when the band got together. The nod to an anti-lockdown poster in Hyde Park is a stark reminder that this album was created virtually from locked down artists. This makes it all the more impressive.
The band put it best themselves; ‘There is more power in the word unspoken’, this seems apt in these times with an absolute balloon running his mouth off at the head of the free world. Equally apt is the word power for the first full-length track on the record, the first song being an amuse-bouche before the heavy soup of ‘The Audient Void’. There is almost an early 2000s emo feel to the beginning of the song before ‘I am the last. I will tell the Audient Void’ sets off thumping guitars like a firework- it’s as though your past has caught up with you and broken into the bothy (remember the bothy from earlier? Go with it.) A thoroughly well-crafted song, ‘The Audient Void’ will take you on a journey of soaring highs and crushing lows, which leaves you exhausted but wanting more.
‘Everyone you have ever known’ is a well earned rest, with a lullaby guitar hook that glides along like a canoe down a calm stream- Or so you think. Suddenly, the waters get choppy as the tumultuous driving guitars come like great waves. There is a real feeling on this record that the three guitarists have been trying to outdo one another like that pal on your drunken lockdown Zoom quiz with the ridiculous questions on their specialist subject. This is no bad thing though as three raucous guitar parts really help to create a sense of impending doom which prevails throughout. Cheery, but when was the last cheery post rock album you heard?!
‘The Sparrow and the Saint’ may sound like a trendy new craft ale bar in Finnieston, but it’s actually a dystopian lullaby to take us towards the end of the of the record. This dreamy track lilts and glides along and allows you to take stock of everything- Much like we have all been doing as it was recorded. Somehow, there is that niggling feeling that something is coming though as the drums become slightly more tribal in the background and the tempo gradually increases. It feels something big is coming. A nine-minute track which eventually tails off with slow, methodical guitar and sweeping ambient synth noises- Definitely my favourite on the record.
‘Redshift’ tells the story of an elderly American gent (In my head, I have the cowboy from The Big Lebowski, and this pleases me no end.) telling a story of pulling a big tree along with a tractor- This really helps to pull the listener along. He seems cheery enough in his little ambling story which is a nice little moment where you feel you’re enjoying a bourbon with an uncle. The synth and guitar really make this sound like he’s telling you his life’s work of dragging along that tree. Lovely.
We finish this little journey on ‘Alternative Endings (Nae Bother Edgelord), which is incidentally one of the best song titles I have seen for some time. The first half is a charming tune which has a real sense of calm and hope about it, however, there is always that heavy edge lingering at the side as a warning that all is not as it seems. It feels an appropriate track to end the EP on as we leave lockdown and the band look forward to getting together to create a full album and are hopefully able to take it out on the road.
All in all, this was an excellent listen- Often with this style of music it can feel like the songs are going on forever, but with this offering, I didn’t realise that songs had been playing for 7-10 minutes as I was engrossed in what I was hearing. Definitely excited to see what else is to come from these guys!