This folksy doom metal project comes from JR Robinson, Leviathan's Wrest and a variety of other metal artists, who come together to make a spectral, meandering cacophony with pastoral undertones. Wrekmeister Harmonies and 'Then It All Came Down' is recommended for fans of a variety of disciplines -- be they drone and doom specialists who spend too much time with Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room and Stara Rzeka, or fans of wide-eyed folk rock like Songs: Ohia.
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The overarching drone that metalhead-turned-composer J. R. Robinson sets in place on 'Then It All Came Down' is unrelenting, with one chord kept in place for what feels like an eternity before another can usurp it. What's captivating about it is its fogginess; it's processed to sound natural and chilling, and any effects complementing it -- such as the free-falling chimes, suffocated string arrangements and spangly guitar improv -- make it sound all the more elemental. Robinson's drone has the illusion of feeling constantly stretched out and expanded, even though he modulates it none; it feels like a never-ending version of the compositions offered by Have a Nice Life earlier this year, in that it makes you feel claustrophobic by getting bigger and emptier. The first side of 'Then It All Came Down', especially, feels like Robinson submitting to the natural environment, vocals layered at such a distance that it feels like they're coming from the sky to the ground. When he begins to interpolate noise and black metal growls towards the end of the composition, it feels like a seamless changing of seasons.
'Then It All Came Down' is named after an answer Bobby Beausoleil gave to Truman Capote about a murder he committed, and specifically how it happened: Beausoleil's admission that "it all came down" sounds like a shrug, a way of saying he has no idea what his motivations were or how the story goes. But Robinson's music never sounds that indifferent: on the second, more contained side of the record -- in the sense that the drone sounds more studio-made -- he makes sorrow and pain the theme of his composition, using dreadful strings that bring to mind post-rock bands hiding out in fractured buildings, as well as Henryk Gorecki's 'Sorrowful Songs'. All this before the song grows into a gut-wrenching doom jam that's been recorded at its loudest and most spiteful. The growled vocals, intermittent feedback and slap-across-the-face drumming sound like an outburst of true agony. That's metal often wants to remind us of, but never physically delivers. With his devotion to the cruel world outside, though, Robinson manages it, making the year's most punishing record.
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