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Whelm : A Gaze Blank and Pitiless as The Sun

Whelm's new offering proves to be an impressively wide-ranging, windswept feast for the ears.

If you’ve had to drag any boulders uphill lately, here is Whelm with your soundtrack. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would like 'A Gaze Blank and Pitiless as the Sun'. But while the opening two songs are solid if unremarkable soundscape sludge, Whelm has more cards in hand than is immediately evident. Starting with “From the Trenches of Perception”, continual layers of added spice elevate the album into a memorable delight of wretchedness. 'Gaze' proves to be an impressively wide-ranging, windswept feast for the ears.

As indicated by the title and album art, this is metal I would listen to in the miserable, oppressive heat of summer. Walls of harsh, overdriven guitars rise on all sides like a blinding desert wind, then withdraw, leaving me feeling that the storm hasn’t calmed, just off in the distance for a moment. All members of Whelm contribute their distinct voices, and the juxtaposition of several vocal lines in tandem sometimes suggests dialogue rather than monologue. The sound palette is fairly extensive, letting Whelm give the listener more harmony and dissonance with each cycle of motif, these often being delivered via a simple color-tone shift. Like the action-on-every-page of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22, Whelm never lessened their grip on my attention.

I especially welcomed the far-east influence that unexpectedly appears late in the album. These pieces combine with the panoramic doom environment to create an almost cinematic effect. It also helps give the album a sense of travel, beginning in one place and ending somewhere else.

Fans of Unearthly Trance, Woods of Ypres, and My Dying Bride's early 2000s albums would do well to put 'A Gaze Blank and Pitiless as the Sun' on the headphones. Walk through narrow, deserted city streets out onto overgrown fields and hills, and let this album open up and swallow you into its maw.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Tann Døkka Jørð
2. The Brazen Bull
3. From the Trenches of Perception
4. Perpetual Blindness
5. Delphine La Laurie
6. The Wrecked Orchestra
7. Ghosts in the Undergrowth
8. Event Horizon

Duration : approx. 55 minutes

Visit the Whelm bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-06-21 by Mark Rzeszutek
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